Article by Nick Jordan /
April 11, 2017 /
Click here to view original /
NSW and Victorian parents and academics are calling for schools to adopt gender neutral uniforms.
State education law gives the option for transgender children to wear the uniform of their choice, but most schools in Australia have compulsory rules that force boys and girls to wear gendered uniforms, often boys in pants and girls in skirts or dresses.
In an interview with the SMH, Mosman parent Alison Boston said “There’s no workplace in Australia that requires women to wear skirts and dresses…It’s an archaic stereotype that has no place in our schools.”
Dr Lauren Rosewarne, a University of Melbourne senior lecturer in gender and sexuality, told news.com the gender neutrality movement is gaining traction.
“[Gender neutral uniforms] is an easy thing to implement if schools, parents and teachers cared enough. There’s no reason not to, aside from high-level conservativeness,” she said.
“It makes kids who don’t pre-identify with gender labels be included in schools without being freaks.”
Sydney’s International Grammar School recently changed their policy on the issue allowing students to wear whichever items of uniform they wanted.
“My message to staff was that as long as the uniform is neat and tidy we don’t need to get hung up on what is being worn,” said principal Shauna Colnan. “We are more interested in what is in students’ heads than what combination of uniform they are wearing.”
Another Sydney school, Newtown High School of Performing Arts, took a similar stance after students protested against gendered uniforms last year.
In Melbourne, a mother of a school student who was told she wasn’t allowed to wear pants in winter because of her gender has received 19,000 signatures on a Change.org petition that demands the Victorian Government make it compulsory for schools to abolish gendered uniform rules.
“What is offered to one student should be offered to all. So for my daughter if she wants to wear a dress she can but is not forced to. If she wants to wear pants/shorts she has the choice (not just on sports days). And this needs to NOT be at the discretion of individual schools,” the petition says.
The South Australian and Queensland government have both passed laws requiring schools to offer gender neutral options.