Author Archives: Amanda Mergler

State laws exempt private & religious schools – let’s change them too

74% of voting Australians agree we should not allow religious schools to discriminate against LGBTIQ+ students. Similarly, we should not allow religious schools to discriminate against girls. Currently, girls who attend religious, private and Independent schools are overwhelmingly forced to wear skirts and dresses to school. The option of shorts and pants is nowhere in sight. You may wonder how this can happen. Don’t we have laws to prevent this kind of discrimination? We do,

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The Gendered Nature of School Uniforms

When I realised that the public school my son has just started at did not offer girls the option of shorts and pants as everyday school uniform, I set about having this changed. I rocked up to the P&C and politely asked that the school add shorts and pants for girls to the uniform policy. While I expected a comment along the lines of, “Gosh, I can’t believe we don’t offer shorts for the girls, let’s make this change,” I was instead

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#MeToo and Girls’ School Uniform

The #MeToo movement is about women raising their voices together, to demonstrate the sheer magnitude of women who have been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted. It is a rare moment in history where many women, who have been frightened into silence for so long, are shouting out about their treatment. #MeToo has taught us that women will stay in situations where they are uncomfortable, and endure men violating their bodies, because they are terrified. It

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Private Girls’ Schools and Limiting Uniforms

Anyone who has looked into what is on offer at private girls’ schools knows that these schools situate themselves as leaders in girl specific education. To them, this means embracing, enhancing, supporting, and nurturing girls.  Creating leaders, do-ers, girls with determination, girls who challenge disadvantage, and girls who are involved in social justice. More recently, these schools outline the ways in which they embrace gender equality, and teach girls to do the same. Private School Promises Take for example the

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Queensland – it’s a private problem and it’s time to speak out

School uniform policies in Queensland’s Catholic and Independent schools, and Brisbane High Schools, are shocking! We recently finished going through the uniform policies online of all Queensland Catholic, Independent and Public schools. This was a massive job – we looked through 1,855 school uniform policies. We did this work from May 2017 to May 2018. While a few schools may have changed their uniform policies over this time, the large numbers we are dealing with

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The Top End is Top for Uniform Choices for Girls

The Northern Territory (NT) has excellent school uniform policies! I‘ve just completed a review of uniform policies of all Catholic, Independent, and Public schools in the top end. And what I found was exciting, wonderful and progressive. By and large, schools in the NT offer inclusive uniform policies to all children. Many of their school uniform policies are gender neutral, in that they list a range of uniform options and do not divide these into

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Public School Communities Want Girls in Shorts and Pants

What results would you get if you surveyed parents, teachers and principals and asked: should girls be forced to wear dresses and skirts to school? While it appears blatantly discriminatory, and Australian states have anti-discrimination legislation preventing it, many schools are still doing this. There must be widespread support from parents, teachers and principals, for girls to have uniform choice, surely? South Australia says no to forcing girls to wear dresses and skirts Thanks to the South Australian

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School Uniforms: Reinforcing Harmful Gender Stereotypes

While we all have opinions about school uniforms, and the impact they may have on girls, it is fascinating to read scholarly research in the area.  Recently, I read a PhD thesis completed in 2015 by Dr Sue (Susan) Bennett of Deakin University called Gender Relations in Elite Coeducational Schools. This research involved three elite coeducational schools in Melbourne, Australia.  It included interviews and informal conversations with staff and students; and observations in classrooms and during lunchtime and extra-curricular activities. Dr Bennett’s

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