School uni­forms by iden­tity, not gen­der

Central Leader - - WHAT’S ON - MICHAEL DALY

‘‘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.

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