We often hear schools say no-one has ever raised the issue of girls wearing shorts or pants. Often we hear from parents who are pleased to hear about Girls Uniform Agenda; they had thought they were the only person who felt uniform choice was important. After all, the P&C, and the Principal, had said that nobody had ever asked if girls could wear shorts or pants.
We know this can’t be true. This argument is used to make women and girls raising it feel foolish and more likely to stop asking. Well, recently a GUA follower posted on our Facebook page the letter she wrote to her school principal in 1989, asking to wear shorts to school. That’s right, way back in 1989.
In Amy’s letter to the school she wrote:
“I am a student in Year 11 and I am concerned with the school’s current uniform policy. I believe it contravenes the Equal Opportunity Act in that it prevents female students from wearing neat dress shorts of school colours. From my observations, I believe that there are many female students wanting to wear shorts. This belief is supported by a petition that was raised last year and was presented to the school. I understand this petition was considered by the council and rejected…I do not think the current policy is in line with the wishes of the majority of students (and probably their parents) nor that it reflects the current legal position concerning the issue of gender equity”.
Amy’s Uniform Rebellion
Amy tells how she dealt with the schools refusal to offer girls the choice of shorts:
“I rode 5 km to school everyday. Not a practical activity when wearing a knee length pleated skirt, so I took to wearing navy blue dress shorts.
Wearing the shorts ended up with me getting called up to see the Deputy Principal to provide an answer to why I wasn’t wearing school uniform.
My response – the boys can wear shorts, why can’t I?
So, they’d tell me to wear a skirt, and I’d say “whatever” and then I kept wearing shorts on and off.
I just kept wearing shorts every day – as I repeatedly went up to the Deputy, she said that she wanted to discuss this matter with my parents. I said – sure thing.
My Dad, a Civil Engineer came to the school and got a lecture from the Deputy Principal about how I wouldn’t be successful if I wasn’t wearing the correct uniform.
Amy’s Dad had the perfect supportive-parent response:
“Dad’s response was – using that logic, none of the students at the University of Western Australia, who all attend their studies in very casual clothing, will be successful. My daughter is wearing school uniform, her shorts are blue, her shirt is white and she has been a model student with an excellent academic record for the past 3 years. You can’t tell me that, because she wants to wear shorts as a practical measure to ride to school, that she is going to be unsuccessful.”
The School’s Response
The Deputy Principal told Amy’s Dad that he might want to look elsewhere for a school to send his daughter. Apparently her local public school was no place for an excellent female student wanting to wear knee-length shorts.
Problem of the 80s, Still a Problem Today
Sadly, this type of story is all too familiar to us at Girls’ Uniform Agenda. It frustrates us endlessly that girls were facing this discrimination back in the 80s, and STILL are today! We ask schools, how much longer are you going to keep saying, “no girl or her parents has ever asked for the right to wear shorts and pants”? We’re not going to be silenced anymore.
So, how did it turn out for Amy? She kept wearing her shorts. Amy also got the school to change its policy to allow ALL girls to wear shorts and pants. And her school, in 2018, continues to offer girls the choice of shorts and pants. How did Amy manage that? She wrote to the Equal Opportunities Commissioner (EOC) in her state. The EOC advised the school to proactively make the change, or be forced to. The school took the proactive option.
Take Action, Contact the Anti-Discrimination Commission
If your daughter/s’ school refuses girls the right to wear shorts and pants to school, every day, as formal and informal uniform, please contact your state Anti-Discrimination Commission/Equal Opportunity Commissioner. It’s time we say no more to the lies and bullying in schools around girls’ school uniforms. This has been going on for decades, and enough is well and truly enough. We’re the answer our daughters are looking for, and we need to make that complaint! Amy’s story shows this worked back in the 80s and we know that it can work today.
State Anti-Discrimination Bodies
Find the details for your state here: http://girlsuniformagenda.org/resources/anti-discrimination-bodies-state/