Schools across the country are adopting gender neutral uniform policies, as part of a government-funded initiative to reduce discrimination, and promote equality among school students.
Educate & Celebrate, a programme backed by the Department for Education, promotes an LGBT-inclusive curriculum and provides funding to enable schools to put measures in place which aim to improve the lives of LGBT pupils.
Allens Croft Primary School in Birmingham received £200,000 from the organisation and have subsequently introduced a policy which gives free reign to students to select which clothes they wear to school. In doing so, they “aim to promote each child’s right to express their gender and personality in whichever way feels right for them,” and so “the rules for boys and girls are the same and we do not insist that they wear specific items of clothing.”
The school is one of an estimated 80 state institutions to have adopted such a policy, either by removing gendered terms from policy wording or by completely re-writing their policies.
Although rather unhelpfully reported by some as “boys wearing skirts” – somewhat trivialising the significance of such policies – the changes mark an important step in considering the needs of those students who are often the subject of discrimination, within and beyond the school gates.
A representative from Stonewall gave their support for the push towards gender neutral uniform policy, telling The Independent that they “welcome all efforts to support young people on trans and gender identity issues and ensure that they feel happy, welcome and accepted at school, and it’s encouraging to see this move.”
“No trans person should be forced to present in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. When this happens, it can be deeply damaging, particularly for young people.”