Hearing directly from young girls about their frustration with outdated uniform policies is always powerful. We know that those school girls that speak out are hugely influential in creating change in their school community. Here’s another young uniform activist, Scarlett; we’re cheering her on in her campaign for girls to be able to have uniform choice. This is the speech that Scarlett gave to her class – she’s still waiting for the school to catch up. We’re with you Scarlett!
Good Morning 5S
In 2012 a study was conducted in an Australian primary school. This study followed a group of girls and a group of boys for 4 weeks. For the first two weeks both groups wore their normal uniform which for boys was slacks and a collared shirt and for girls was a dress. For the second two weeks both groups wore their sports uniforms. The results showed that wearing a dress resulted in girls doing significantly less exercise.
This morning I will convince you that wearing a dress has a significant and negative impact on a girls education, not just from the perspective of physical education but also formal education. We all understand that a healthy lifestyle includes consistent and regular exercise. And yet schools restrict girls to a dress at least 3 if not 4 days a week. This means if I want to play soccer at lunch on a Monday, climb the spider web on a Wednesday or be included in handball on a Thursday all of my choices are limited because I am wearing something which does not allow my body to move freely and comfortably and with modesty.
An inactive lifestyle leads to obesity, and chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease, so we should be encouraging children to be as active as possible, including girls. But lets also consider our learning in the classroom. The Girls’ uniform Agenda website gives the example of a robotics class or, in the case of younger children, lego construction. Girls are held back in these activities due to their inability to crawl on the floor, or even sit on the floor with modesty. Any activity in the classroom that requires me to reach up like hanging artwork, or sit high, like in a high school science lab is made uncomfortable and so discourages me from full participation.
Lastly wearing a skirt leaves a girl more open to the effects of the weather and is actually far less modest than pants. In winter months boys are given the option of wearing long pants as it is recognised that they cannot learn properly whilst cold. Girls however are given the option of stockings which are itchy and do not protect as well from the cold. This leaves girls in skirts more likely to be distracted from learning because they are cold. Windy weather is especially difficult in a skirt. Rather than participating in fun activities with their friends, girls must hold their skirt down and monitor the wind.
This is both a social and educational concern. If girls were allowed to wear parts they could remain far more modest regardless of the weather. And teachers would be able to spend less time monitoring the length of our skirts and just be able to teach. In fact no matter what was happening soccer, rain, hand ball, assembly, science class, wind, climbing stairs, talking to friends, I would be able to do it to the best of my ability if I were able to wear pants.
Wearing dresses impacts the physical health and formal learning of girls and leaves them open to the weather and immodest situations.