Making all children wear trousers is not a gender neutral uniform policy

Piers Morgan criticises Lewes school’s gender neutral uniform – BBC news


although I don’t agree with Piers Morgan’s reason for finding the Priory school’s uniform policy absurd. It do agree this school has still got it very wrong. Is this really an attempt at a gender neutral school uniform policy, or rather is it a blunt tool to cover up female flesh to avoid addressing/ acknowledging the objectifying attitudes to women that continue to proliferate in society?

Priory School in Lewes said it made the change after concerns were raised over the length of skirts worn by pupils.


Examine the pictures produced by the school and ask yourself if it obvious which figures are boys and which are girls?

Of course it feckin’ is! The boys have trousers with a smart crease down the front. The girls have slimmer, figure hugging trousers. The girls wear ballet shoes, the boys big chunky shoes (this school is so behind the times, ballet shoes are so yesterday, DMs are where it is at for boys and girls and those who identify as a third gender, intersex or no gender). The girls have long hair, the boys short. The girls pose in a way that accentuates their little delicate, weak hands. The boys ram rod straight, their big, strong hands behind their backs or straight down their sides (a physical manifestation of holding it all in, even those really useful emotions of fear and regret and sorrow).

Gender neutral clothing means boys and girls and those who identify as a third gender, intersex, or no gender wear whatever uniform that they feel ‘right’ in be that a skirt, trousers, shorts or a dress; and that the school rules are applied equally to all. Better still, scrap uniform altogether and instead develop a set of guidelines applicable to all that ensure safety and fairness such as, no heels, no obvious branding logos etc.

What gender neutral clothing is not about is covering up flesh and stifling individual expression by making everyone the same. So although Piers Morgan’s objection is coming from a quaint, but frankly last century Chauvinism (yawn), I do get his discomfort and I strongly urge Priory Academy to have a rethink and engage with their student body – who will already have the solution – and roll out a gender neutral uniform policy that really is what it says it is.

3 thoughts on “Making all children wear trousers is not a gender neutral uniform policy”

  1. I agree with you, apart from the ‘no uniform’ suggestion. I love that uniforms hide the wealth differences between children, but I also think a lack of uniform just ends up with girls feeling pressured to dress to impress, rather than be comfortable.

    1. Hi Juli, lovely to hear from you. I hope all is peaceful for you and your family. I used to be a strong advocate for school uniform for the same first reason as you, but I actually feel that for some families and some schools the uniform cost is higher than buying non-branded clothing – many free schools and academies now expect families to purchase blazers from specific retail stores. In the 1980’s when I was at school, clothing was relatively much more expensive than it is today, so a cost effective uniform made sense. I don’t believe this argument holds today. Having guidelines such as no obvious branding logos or slogans would reduce the sense of wealth inequality, and to be fair, stores like H&M and Primark have customers from across the wealth spectrum. As for your second reason, I don’t think it would affect girls exclusively and all young people have to negotiate the impression they give by what the wear when not in school. Learning how to dress appropriately for the situation is a life skill that will not be acquired if you have no choice.

  2. Your justification for my second reason provides food for thought. Although we weren’t poor, I was always very grateful for my uniform in secondary school. I’ve never really been interested in fashion, and I went from school to a job with uniforms, so I’ve always been a little self conscience when it came to dressing up. I still think I would have found worrying about what to wear to school in my teens, an extra unwanted burden. By the time kids get to university, I’d like to think that they are mature enough not to judge, tease or bully others about how they look.
    Thinking about how long this argument has been going on in societies around the world, I’d hazard to guess that the opposing opinions are based on the way we all felt as teenagers. There are those who feel confident about their appearance, and those that don’t. Perhaps that’s what it boils down to.

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