- If John Lewis can remove girls’ and boys’ labels from children’s clothing, and create a gender-neutral uniform selection, why aren’t schools doing the same?
- Why are some girls still not allowed to wear trousers to school in the 21st century?
- Why are we defining our children by the clothes they wear?
Uniform Reform is a nationwide campaign to start the ball rolling and get schools to take the pledge and support gender neutral uniforms. It is starting in Hertfordshire and the aim is to get as many school as possible to sign up and make Hertfordshire the leading county for gender equality in schools.
Uniform Reform is about creating a culture of acceptance and dispelling old gender stereotypes that are so ingrained in our society.
Why take the pledge?
Given that girls’ trousers are now such a widely recognised and popular item of clothing, it is difficult to understand why any school which prides itself on its forward thinking (as most do) does not include trousers as an option for girls.
There are many arguments to support girls wearing trousers.
- The practical aspect, i.e. they restrict freedom of movement and risk the girls showing their underwear, they are much colder to wear in the winter, chaffing can be a problem in warmer weather, and they are not fit for purpose during a girl’s menstrual cycle. Trousers may therefore be a more appropriate form of apparel for the type of activities undertaken at school, and children should have the option to choose.
- The psychological aspects such as body image, bullying and sexualised behaviour. Trousers as a school uniform option for girls thereby gives those girls who are concerned, the opportunity to cover up if they so wish.
There has been recent discussion about LGBT+ issues and schools. Forcing children who might be questioning their gender identity, into wearing particular items of clothing can have devastating effects on them. With an estimated 10% of the population being LGBT+, all schools should allow pupils to choose items they feel comfortable with. The inclusion of trousers as a uniform option for all would be LGBT+ friendly. This campaign also aims to take it one step further and remove gender from items of clothing so that skirts are also an option for all.
- Finally, there is the Legal aspect. The Equality act 2010; While the wording of the 2010 Equality Act itself might not mention school uniforms specifically, it does puts great emphasis on the avoidance of activities and actions in all spheres of life that result in one gender being treated less favourably by comparison with another.
In addition to the above mentioned Act, the Department For Education (DfE) published a specific document on the Equality Act and Schools which again emphasises the need to avoid uniforms that are expensive and treat one sex less favourably than the other.
The guidance also encourages schools to consider the concept of “indirect” discrimination. This involves the application of a requirement, which, although applied equally to everyone, puts certain people at a particular disadvantage because of their gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or belief or gender reassignment. Such a requirement will need to be justified as a proportionate way of achieving a reasonable objective if it is to be lawful, and so far, there is no such argument that would stand up in a court of law.
- Let’s build a legacy for future generations…
- Let’s finish 2018 as the leading county for gender equality in schools…
- Don’t get left behind… take the pledge today uniformreform.co.uk