Last year I wrote a piece about boys in the UK controversially wearing skirts to school in defiance of a strict dress code. It was hot and they were told they could not wear shorts, only long pants. So, collectively, they took a stand and all wore skirts to school. They made international news. Lone Uniform Warriors Back then, I commented that rarely do we see girls standing together in solidarity in the same way. Particularly in the school
“Who is old enough to remember…when girls could not wear pants to school?” The question on this Facebook post frustrated me; we know that anyone alive today in Australia is old enough to remember this, it still happens. After digging a little deeper, I realised the post had originated in America, and the majority of the comments underneath were from Americans. While America still has a small number of schools that do enforce uniform, most American schools do not.
Schools are increasingly responding to calls to give girls the choice of wearing shorts and pants, or to provide gender neutral uniforms. Some schools do this by simply taking away the labels of ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ from existing uniforms and ‘ta-da!’ – gender neutral uniform. This often means these schools are actually offering the former ‘boys’ uniform – boys’ shorts and pants – to all students. Taking away labels isn’t the answer This doesn’t work
Your daughter’s about to go on stage for her public school’s awards’ ceremony, everyone should be excited. Except they’re not, a daughter in tears, an exasperated mother and a principal bursting with anger. This story shows that even when schools offer uniform choice, the shaming, guilt and pressure on girls to conform to gender expectations is ever-present. And girls’ appearance can still outweigh ability. When schools offer choice – it needs to be authentic and
Story from a Young Uniform Activist Fight for what you believe in, because change is necessary. Young activist Fifteen-year-old, Jess Insall, from Glasgow, Scotland, shows just how simple uniform change can be: “Instead of saying ‘girls wear this, boys wear that’ schools can simply say ‘pupils may wear either this, or that’.” Jess shares her story below to inspire other young uniform activists to speak out and stand up for their right to wear pants (trousers):
We’re a long way from achieving gender equality however you look at it. When we ask young girls what they think, they say they feel judged on their appearance and don’t feel equal to boys, not even at school. “More than half of Australian girls report that they are most often valued for their looks, not their brains and ability.” Schools give these reasons for dress and skirt only uniforms: “It’s tradition, it’s always been
I would like to introduce you to Marlie. Marlie is not an Education Minster. She is however a powerful 8 year old girl who lives in South Australia and is in Grade 3. Marlie hates dresses, and has not chosen to wear one since she was 3 years old. At her Catholic primary school however, Marlie was required to wear a dress, in summer and in winter, just like all her female classmates. That was
I was telling a colleague recently about the work Girls’ Uniform Agenda does in advocating that all girls in all schools across Australia have the option of shorts and pants as everyday school wear. My colleague looked at me and stammered, “but, but, don’t schools have to allow that? Don’t we have legislation that means they are required to do that already?” Legal loopholes I have faced this comment before. In fact when I first