Schoolgirls face ban on skirts

A piece published on the website of Justice for Men & Boys (and the women who love them), the political party of which I’m the chairman, in July 2018:

piece in today’s Sunday Times:

For schoolgirls, the skirt is on the way out. An analysis of the uniform policies of schools in England shows that at least 40 secondaries have stopped girls from wearing them, while others are consulting on a ban.

The change to trousers comes as schools opt for gender-neutral uniforms to cater for transgender pupils.

Priory School in Lewes, East Sussex, which banned skirts last year, said pupils had questioned why its uniform was different for boys and girls, and that the needs of transgender students must be taken into account. Crawshaw Academy, near Leeds, is “consulting on implementing a gender-neutral uniform (trousers only)”.

Copleston High School, in Ipswich, has placed skirts on a list of unacceptable items alongside “skinny jeans and facial piercings”. Skirts at Woodhey High School, in Bury, were deemed “undignified and embarrassing” for staff and visitors when girls sit on the floor for assembly and in drama classes.

The moves by schools come as the government prepares to clarify the rights of transgender people in changes to the Gender Recognition Act. A consultation paper is expected on Tuesday.

Feminists this weekend condemned the bans, arguing that all children should be offered a choice. Naomi Wolf, the American writer, said: “I think that trousers-only for everyone is a silly way to go — unless you are going to also offer the option of skirts-only for everyone. I believe that if everyone is offered the option of both skirts and trousers, everyone can find his, her or their comfortable fit.”

In Bradford, numerous schools with a high proportion of Muslim pupils do not allow skirts on modesty grounds. Bans are also common in Leeds and Grimsby. In Ipswich, eight secondary schools prohibit them, which means the majority of girls attend “trouser-only” schools.

Some schools, however, are fighting a rearguard action to save the skirt. Pupils at Philips High School, in Bury, which is planning to make wearing trousers compulsory for both boys and girls next year, have gathered hundreds of signatures on a petition arguing that a ban on skirts is “sexualising” pupils’ bodies. Its female pupils also argue that they feel more confident in skirts and forcing them into trousers could “damage our mental health”.

“If any teacher believes seeing a child’s leg is in any way ‘too sexual’,” states the petition, “they should be sacked immediately for gross misconduct.”

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