Gender-neutral uniforms in schools are a developing trend.
Some dislike the call by the secondary teachers’ union the PPTA for students to have a choice over uniforms. Strictlygendered clothing reinforces gender stereotypes and norms, the PPTA said.
In fact, there is no reason why uniforms can’t easily be made gender-neutral, and there are good reasons why they should. Girls wearing dresses might well find that they are more restrictive than the usual boys’ uniforms. So why should they be put at a disadvantage?
Two years ago the Ministry of Education decreed that schools could consider gender-neutral clothing choices when uniforms were reviewed. Many schools are already doing this.
At Freyberg High School in Palmerston North, for example, girls can wear a complete set of boys’ uniform, and boys can wear girls’ uniforms, but they can’t mix and match. More and more schools have gender-neutral uniforms while allowing girls to wear skirts rather than shorts if they wish.
This is the sensible way to keep everyone happy. Genderneutrality as a default position, and freedom to opt for the more traditional uniform as well.