School uniforms by identity, not gender
‘‘From bike riding to sporting activities, feminised uniform options often disadvantage girls’’
A push for gender-neutral uniforms has gotten a big boost, with secondary teachers’ union the PPTA calling for students to get a choice over what they wear.
In its new Affirming diversity of sexualities and gender identities in the school community guidelines, the PPTA said strictly gendered uniforms reinforced gender stereotypes and perpetuated norms of a gender binary: ‘‘a society in which girls ought to be feminine and that boys ought to be masculine’’.
‘‘From a practical stance, some girls find skirts and dresses to be restrictive, limiting the types of activities they do before school, during break times and after school.
‘‘From bike riding to sporting activities, feminised uniform options often disadvantage girls,’’ the PPTA said.
Allowing students to choose from a range of shorts, trousers, skirts of different lengths and styles would be progressive in valuing diversity of gender expression, it said.
In 2015 the Ministry of Education said school uniforms could reinforce gender norms, so schools may consider offering gender-neutral clothing choices when uniforms were reviewed. The PPTA is also suggesting individual toilets and showers are a way to keep students, including those who are genderdiverse, safe from bullying and provide desirable levels of privacy.