Step in the right direction for girls’ uniforms
The right for girls to wear pants and shorts in school has taken a step forward in Queensland with the state government’s announcement that they will rewrite the state school uniform policy.
This follows on from Western Australian and Victorian state schools recently adopting similar uniform policies which offer this choice for girls.
IEUA-QNT Assistant Secretary Rebecca Sisson said our union encourages employers in the non-government education sector to follow suit and adopt uniform policies which allow “gender neutral” uniform options.
“If we are to live in a world where there is gender equality, we must review long-held traditions such as gendered school uniforms.
“While some styles of uniform are appropriate for all students regardless of gender, it is not appropriate for girls to simply be offered the choice of wearing the boys’ uniform,” she said.
The need for new uniform policies in schools goes beyond allowing student choice.
“There are many reasons why girls may prefer shorts or pants, including ease of movement in the classroom and playground or due to modesty.
“When students feel uncomfortable, they are less likely to pay attention in class and less likely to want to be involved in the school environment.”
Co-founder of Girls’ Uniform Agenda Dr Amanda Mergler questioned why schools were still forcing outdated expectations on girls amounting to gender disadvantage and discrimination.
She encourages schools to do more when it comes to changing internal culture and allow teachers to facilitate discussions with their students around these issues in regards to what their rights as young individuals are: what they have a right to wear and their right to feel comfortable.
“Girls need to be involved in decision-making to ensure appropriate options are provided.
“We don’t want individuals to have to fight this fight every time they see the need for change.
“We want the overarching bodies that govern and work with those systems to put policies in place that mean schools must offer girls a range of suitable choices,” she said.
The February edition of Independent Education magazine discusses the importance of encouraging schools to incorporate new gender-neutral uniform policies for students.