In a step that could mark gender equality, a secondary school in UK has banned girls from wearing skirts with complaints over the “decency” of short skirts.
Priory School in Lewes, east Sussex, has announced that starting from this autumn term, all new students must wear trousers, while returning students have the option to wear either trousers or skirts.
Tony Smith, the school’s headmaster, said he bought in the change because pupils had been questioning why the uniform ascribed certain garments to boys and others to girls.
“Pupils have been saying why do boys have to where ties and girls don’t, and girls have different uniform to boys,” he was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.
“So, we decided to have the same uniform for everybody from Year 7. Another issue was that we have a small but increasing number of transgender students and therefore having the same uniform is important for them,” he said.
There had also been complaints from the wider community about the length of school skirts, so this was another factor in the decision to ban them altogether.
“We know the current uniform is not necessarily worn as respectfully as it should be. There were problems with decency and a number of issues raised by people in the community about how students were wearing uniform,” Smith was quoted as saying.
The school’s website states that from September all new Priory students will be required to wear the updated uniform.
“This uniform has been designed specifically in response to the many issues and suggestions raised by parents, students and school staff. Specifically, it addresses the current issues of inequality and decency,” the school says on its website.
“We hope that it will provide a smart, comfortable and affordable alternative to the current uniform. The new update consists of shirt, tie, school jumper and trousers. This is a gender-neutral uniform to be worn by all students,” it says.
The response to the change from parents and students was divided, with some agreeing with it, while others voicing their opposition.
“My daughter and her friends are appalled by this. The school is creating a hostile environment for girls,” a parent was quoted as saying.
Another parent said, “My daughter said she has got a gender and it’s female, so being gender neutral when she has got a gender is a big deal for her, as she is proud to be a girl. I feel girls should be allowed to wear skirts if they want to.”
Meanwhile, some parents said they supported the move.
“I’m not in favour of uniform at all, but if you’re going to have a uniform I think it is great it’s gender neutral,” a mother said.