Gender Neutral School Uniform – A Step Too Far?

Unless you have been living under a rock this last week you can’t have missed that it is Back To School Season. Parents across the globe are a mix of relief that the holidays are finally ending and sadness that their kids are going back. First time school mums like myself are a bag of nerves and on the edge of tears at any given moment.

A school has adopted a gender neutral school uniform. Is this a forward thinking move or a step too far? Here is what I think about it all. What about you?

This time of year also allows for great media coverage. Reports of schools dishing out extreme punishments for the wrong uniform on day one. Speculation about the benefits of adopting the Scandinavian hours. This year saw a school come under fire very quickly when it became apparent that they have banned skirts and adopted a gender neutral school uniform. So is this a forward thinking move or a step too far?

Forward Thinking

In our modern society we are slowly becoming more and more understanding and accepting of people that are ‘different to us.’ People who don’t identify as the gender they are born; homosexuals; cross dressers. Quite simply and very rightly the stigma around these things are slowly being diminished, although I don’t deny there is still epic amounts to be done. Perhaps a Secondary School adopting this uniform policy is a step in the right direction. Perhaps it will encourage inclusion and make the idea of being gender neutral a normal concept.

There is evidence to suggest that our sexuality and the gender we associate with is dictated by the hormones we are exposed to in the womb. If these hormones don’t follow the text book then a baby is born with different life preferences ahead of them. In the words of Lady Gaga ‘Baby, You Were Born This Way.’

I would like to think that anything that helps and encourages people to effectively adjust to a different way of life from what society deems to be normal then that must be a good thing.

Or is it…?

A school has adopted a gender neutral school uniform. Is this a forward thinking move or a step too far? Here is what I think about it all. What about you?

A Step Too Far

I should probably start this paragraph with the disclaimer that this is where my opinion lies. I do not judge others for the way they live their lives. And I am intelligent enough to know that people don’t choose to be gay, straight, trans or any other type of label. We are what we are.

The trouble with encouraging a gender neutral uniform is it isn’t encouraging expression of self in any way. Obviously the point of school uniform is to give everyone a level playing field regardless of background, home environment or sexual orientations. It helps keep everyone as equal as possible. Of course the grading system of school instantly destroys this but that is a whole other blog post.

Perhaps making everyone wear trousers is just another way of keeping everyone equal. But what about giving people choices? What about teaching our kids to be confident in making choices? Their choices! Banning the skirt simply discourages girls to be girly girls in my opinion. I was able to wear trousers to school if I wanted but I hated them. At the weekends I wore jeans but at school I found the trousers uncomfortable; I much preferred wearing skirts.

I am the mum of two girls who love dresses and skirts. To stop them wearing what they are comfortable in seems unfair to me. It is a step too far.

Boys in Skirts

Earlier in the year a story came out in the media that a school had banned boys from wearing shorts to school in the middle of a heat wave. They were not even allowed to wear their uniform P.E shorts. In protest, a group of boys went to school in skirts. These boys were praised and so they should have been.

The point I am trying to make is instead of striving for gender neutrality should we not be encouraging gender inclusivity? Should skirts not be available for both boys and girls? Trousers already are and I remember when that was first the case. It was huge that girls were finally allowed to wear trousers to school. This new step feels that we are going backwards instead of forwards. Things are being banned rather than widening their potential use.

Ok so we are just talking about skirts, but for me it is all part of a wider issue. There is the chance to get this so right but the school risk getting it very wrong.

Perhaps boys in skirts would be a distraction to the kids? Perhaps there will be boys and girls that don’t take this seriously; that take advantage and cause disruption? Yeah, perhaps. But once the novelty has worn off then that won’t be the case. Instead of disruptions and uncomfortable teenagers we will be left with our future society growing up in an environment of no judgement for the choice of clothing. They will be growing up in a time where we are free to make choices, to have those choices accepted and maybe even understood. A boy wearing a skirt is not physically harming anyone in the exact same way that girls wearing trousers aren’t.

A school has adopted a gender neutral school uniform. Is this a forward thinking move or a step too far? Here is what I think about it all. What about you?

Reading Between the Lines

If you read the whole story behind the school banning skirts I feel you get to the real reason they have done it. Secondary school girls very rarely stick to the rules of skirt length. The school has said it hopes that these new rules will tackle this issue. And there we have it… The truth.

It is true of course that most secondary school girls don’t like longer skirts. I was one of them. And even when the upper echelons of the fashion world decided that 3/4 length skirts were the height of fashion, girls still went to school wearing skirts that were half way up their back to knock their hat off (a phrase my grandma loves to use). There must be a better way to deal with that issue though. Or at least call a spade a spade and don’t try and dress this up as a move towards gender neutrality.

We Have A Long Way To Go

For me it is about time we work towards being an inclusive society. We have come so far in so many ways but we obviously still have a long way to go to make sure people feel safe and accepted for the way they choose to live their lives. The fight for women’s rights is a prime example of what we can achieve as a society but also of the hurdles we must overcome to get to roughly where we want to be. And since that fight still isn’t over I think the fight towards gender neutral acceptance is very much in it’s infancy. I hope the move of this school doesn’t become a bump in the road. I hope I am proven wrong. Only time will tell.

A school has adopted a gender neutral school uniform. Is this a forward thinking move or a step too far? Here is what I think about it all. What about you? As a parent I worry about my childrens future and the society they will be living in. I hope we can raise the future the right way.

Motherhood The Real Deal
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8 Comments

  1. September 7, 2017 / 5:59 pm

    This is a great post I agree we should be encouraging gender sensitivity for sure and at the end of the day as with all things…it should be a choice, not a dictate. Either way you’re absolutely right…we have a long way to go! Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely xoxo

  2. September 8, 2017 / 4:03 pm

    Yes! THIS. I love your post and so totally agree with being inclusive but allowing choice. Choice for everyone. #blogcrush

    • Winnettes
      September 18, 2017 / 9:35 am

      Thanks lovely, I’ll head over and check it out x

  3. September 13, 2017 / 5:09 pm

    Thought provoking post! And a discussion I was having just yesterday with my husband. I agree that if boys and girls want to wear skirts, then why not? It should all be about gender inclusivity. #CoolMumClub xx

  4. September 13, 2017 / 8:06 pm

    Yes I agree. As you say, it was such a huge thing when girls could suddenly start wearing trousers (my grandma never wore a pair of trousers in her life because she just couldn’t bring herself to do it) but now it’s just the norm. Maybe this will be the case with boys wearing skirts in the future? I’m not sure that gender neutral uniforms are the answer.

    And congratulations because someone loved this post so much, they added it to the #blogcrush linky. Feel free to collect your “I’ve been featured” blog badge 🙂 #blogcrush

  5. September 14, 2017 / 5:30 am

    The discussion about gender neutral school uniform is a false debate. If you look at the uniform policy for the Priory School (it’s available online, I’ve read it myself) it doesn’t even mention gender neutrality. The phrase is used once, in the final sentence of a page on its website dedicated to school uniform.

    The discussion should really be about whether the uniform we insist kids wear is practical. Ties, open fronted shoes, skirts, dresses, smart clothes are irrelevant when it comes ot education. We force kids into quasi-office wear simply because generations of schoolchildren have done so and we think they should look smart.

    I’m all for uniform, I think it is a great idea. But something like the Rainbows uniform, a branded tracksuit would make considerably more sense for boys and girls. Girls wouldn’t need to worry about exposing their underwear if they wanted to do gymnastics at playtime or use a climbing frame and boys wouldn’t run the risk of strangling themselves with a tie.

    Uniform should be practical and comfortable, not smart and restrictive (of both mind and body). Gender neutrality, which is exceedingly contentious, shouldn’t even come into the discussion (I won’t link drop, but you’ll find I’ve blogged about this subject a lot).

    • Winnettes
      September 18, 2017 / 9:54 am

      Oh I love this response, thank you. I agree with some of this but not all. I dislike the idea of a tracksuit for many reasons. I would have hated to wear it (is still don’t own lounge wear I hate it so much) and I know my kids are the same. I also think that the kids being encouraged to be smart is a good thing. Too many people underestimate how much better you feel when you actually take care of your appearance. However I do believe ties to be very outdated now. Even some of the biggest business men don’t wear them anymore.
      I think this is a huge topic and some very interesting points can be made. School uniform is slowly becoming outdated but many schools near me have relaxed much of the uniform and have changed the shirts to polo’s and no ties. I found at school that the girls that did want to be energetic at playtime were the girls that wore trousers anyway. I’m certainly not anti girls in trousers just more anti the lack of reasonable choice for both boys and girls.
      Thank you for taking the time to read this and comment. You certainly got me thinking.

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