Par­ents want gen­der neu­tral uni­forms

The Invercargill Eye - - FRONT PAGE - RE­BECCA MOORE

Fiord­land Col­lege’s uni­form is dated, ex­pen­sive and not eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble, some par­ents say.

Yvette O’Shaughnessy, a mother of 12 and 13 year old girls at the school, started a dis­cus­sion about the cur­rent uni­form.

O’Shaughnessy brought it up af­ter her daugh­ters said they would like the op­tion to wear shorts or pants, es­pe­cially be­ing as ac­tive as a lot of the boys at school.

‘‘I think it’s just a gen­der neu­tral is­sue more than any­thing else.’’

Some girls liked wear­ing the skirts, but hav­ing only one op­tion - skirts - was ‘‘a sign of the times’’ and there should be more choice, O’Shaughnessy said.

She also had con­cerns for the eco­nomic im­pact on fam­i­lies hav­ing to ‘‘fork out’’ for ex­pen­sive uni­forms.

The school’s uni­form cost was es­ti­mated at $900 in its 2017 fees struc­ture.

Board of trustees chair­man Nigel Humphries said the is­sue had been raised with him, but as a dis­cus­sion topic more than a com­plaint.

The board would dis­cuss it at its next meet­ing on Jan­uary 31. The board was open to look­ing at op­tions and hear­ing from par­ents who had ques­tions, he said.

How­ever, he agreed the gen­der neu­tral de­bate was ‘‘a fair point’’.

‘‘We want to look at the whole is­sue and look at the best op­tions.’’

O’Shaughnessy’s post on the Te Anau Com­mu­nity In­for­ma­tion Face­book page re­ceived com­ments from other par­ents ex­press­ing sim­i­lar views, ask­ing for a more ‘‘gen­der neu­tral’’ uni­form.

Par­ent Cather­ine Scott said: ‘‘[I] to­tally agree with this is­sue and I’m so glad oth­ers feel the same. Kilts are not very prac­ti­cal for ac­tive girls, I’m all for gen­der neu­tral uni­forms. Girls should have the op­tion as to what they wear - skirt or pants.

‘‘I think it’s an old fash­ioned idea that girls wear skirts to school and I hope we can bring about some change.’’

Par­ent Am­ber Lind said: ‘‘My daugh­ter is self con­scious wear­ing kilts and would love the op­tion of wear­ing long pants. The cost of kilts is phe­nom­e­nal com­pared to shorts [and] trousers and does put a strain on things.‘‘

BARRY HARCOURT

Fiord­land Col­lege, in Te Anau.

BARRY HARCOURT

Fiord­land Col­lege stu­dents in their uni­form with kilts.

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