Margaret and Rowena’s story

My name is Margaret and I am the mother of two daughters, now in their 50s and one son. When my kids were at school we lived in the Blue Mountains in NSW. My elder daughter, Rowena was friendly with a number of boys who played footie at lunchtime, and she wanted to join in, but was constrained by the unsuitability of the dress she was obliged to wear as the school uniform.

Because of the really cold Winter weather, slacks were part of the Winter uniform at Springwood High, but dresses were obligatory in Summer. When the chance to play footie turned up, my daughter decided to start wearing the boys’ uniform of grey Stubbies, to have more freedom of movement.  This was jumped on by the Principal as not permissible.  She pleaded her case that the shorts allowed her to join in this activity, but the administration was unmoved.  We supported her in her disobedience, and eventually the school gave in.

I believe it is essential that all girls in all schools be offered the option of shorts and slacks as part of their every-day school uniform. This is important because shorts make engagement in physical activity much easier, and we all know there is concern about girls’ lack of activity – they usually sit and watch the boys run around; very few run around themselves.

Dresses inhibit activity because of the way they flap around and rise up above the underwear line.  Shorts and slacks are simply much more practical.  In fact, I never wear skirts these days.  My wardrobe consists entirely of slacks/cutoffs/shorts.  Why should schoolgirls be constrained?

At the time my daughter was a student wearing the boy’s shorts, we didn’t see any other female students moving toward wearing shorts, and thought that when my daughter left that would be the end of it.  I have since discovered, however, that black shorts are part of the possibilities of uniform for both boys and girls now at Springwood High in the Junior years (years 7 to 9), but not in the Senior Years (years 10 to 12). While I am proud that my daughter’s fight has benefited many girls since she left, I am dismayed to see that senior girls are still denied the right to wear shorts to school.