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Home > News > 2019 > June > Inclusive uniform options for Queensland Catholic schools

Inclusive uniform options for Queensland Catholic schools

Topics : EquityThe Good & The Bad

Girls_Uniform_Agenda.jpgFemale students in Queensland Catholic schools will soon have the option to wear shorts and pants, as part of new inclusive practices. 

The decision comes after increasing advocacy from our union and the Girls Uniform Agenda (GUA), highlighted the importance of girls being offered a range of suitable uniform options including shorts and pants, to ensure all students have the equal opportunity to learn and participate at school.

The GUA, formed in 2017, has successfully seen uniform policy changes across many state schools in Australia, including all Queensland government schools. 

Caryl Davies, IEUA-QNT Organiser and Equity Committee member, said our union has stood in solidarity with members in calling on non-government schools to implement fair and equitable uniform policy. 

“Our union has participated in various calls to action in support of the GUA, including a day of action on 8 March 2019 in alignment with International Women’s Day, to highlight the importance of collective action to create equality in our schools,” said Ms Davies.

Research has proven wearing skirts or dresses to school can have a negative impact on health and physical activity levels of young girls, as skirts and dresses severely inhibit girls’ ability to participate in active play and sport.

Forcing girls to wear dresses or skirts without appropriate alternative options also reinforces harmful gender stereotypes, which can negatively impact self-esteem and mental health. 

A recent position statement released by the Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC) will see the Queensland Catholic sector following suit on uniform options for girls, with all Catholic schools being required to give consideration to providing uniform options that include shorts and pants for all students. 

IWD_3.jpgIEUA-QNT member and teacher of over 20 years, Alex Patten (pictured, far right with colleagues wearing pants on IWD this year), has been a strong advocate for the introduction of uniforms that reflect gender equality.

Ms Patten believes girls should be able to make a choice about what they feel most comfortable wearing to school. 

“Without a doubt, schools that enforce a dress and skirt only option for girls results in our young women being limited by this lack of choice, both physically and socially in what they can do," Ms Patten said.

“How can this be fair, when one group of students gets to do more than another?

“This is why we must ensure we continue to level the playing field and offer the freedom of choice to all of our young people,” Ms Patten said. 

QCEC's decision to establish these positive and inclusive uniform policies is a step in the right direction for all non-government schools, and our union commends QCEC on this announcement. 

Lead image credit: Girls Uniform Agenda | Facebook

Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.