UK schools adopt “gender neutral” uniforms

Well, this is going to raise some eyebrows.

Schools in Wales in the United Kingdom will soon allow boys to wear skirts and girls to wear pants in a gender neutral uniform shake-up.

The move comes after a couple of schools took the drastic action of actually banning girls from wearing skirts to class.


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Welsh Minister for Education Kirsty Williams said the new uniform policy is being introduced as a cost-cutting measure as much as an opportunity for all children to have more freedom and autonomy on the playground, as feedback from parents revealed they are shelling out upwards of $500 per year in uniform costs.

“Families will know how expensive new uniforms can be. This guidance puts a statutory responsibility on schools to consider the affordability, access and availability when setting their school uniform and appearance policy,” Williams says.

The policy is designed to “help reduce the burden on families, so our children can focus on fulfilling their potential and enjoying a healthy academic and social life”, she adds.

“We should not be enforcing outdated ideas of what clothes are suitable for their gender, especially if it makes them wear something they feel uncomfortable wearing,” Williams says.

“This new guidance makes clear that school uniform policies should not dictate items of clothing based on gender.”

As a mother of two girls who wear the traditional plaid school uniform – I couldn’t cheer any harder for this policy.

Before anyone gets their knickers in a knot and focuses on the part that says “boys can now wear skirts to school”, lets drill down to the real benefit of this: girls can wear pants and shorts.

This means they can run, jump, climb, play sports, and do all of the other things the boys in the playground are doing, without worrying about their skirt climbing up and showing off their knickers.

Studies have shown that restrictive school uniforms can hamper girls’ participation in sports, with one piece of research showing that the amount of exercise girls did increased significantly when they were allowed to wear their sports uniforms.

So, I’m all for a gender neutral school uniform policy. But what do you think? Is this a great idea and we should follow suit in Australia – or should we leave things exactly as they are?

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A number of schools in Australia have had explicitly gender neutral uniform policies. I was P&C President of my children’s infants school in 2013 when it clarified that the uniform policy was gender neutral (any gender could wear any item of uniform). The sky definitely did not fall in.