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Dozens of UK schools ban skirts for girls in move toward gender-neutral uniforms
At least 40 middle schools in the United Kingdom have banned skirts for girls in a move to make transgender students feel comfortable. (Image source: Video screenshot)

Dozens of UK schools ban skirts for girls in move toward gender-neutral uniforms

Dozens of schools in the United Kingdom have banned girls from wearing skirts at school in a trend to move toward gender-neutral uniforms, the Independent reported.

The trend to adopt a "trousers only" policy in an effort to be gender-inclusive has been criticized by some transgender advocates. Even so, more schools are reportedly considering similar uniform changes.

Other schools, such as Woodhey High School in Bury, Greater Manchester, have claimed they changed their uniforms because skirts can be "undignified and embarrassing" for staff or visitors when girls sit on the floor.

What are the reasons for banning skirts?

Priory School in Lewes, East Sussex, said it banned skirts after students asked why boys and girls have to wear different uniforms. The students wanted their transgender classmates to feel comfortable, according to the news outlet.

Skirts, skinny jeans and facial piercings are considered unacceptable at Copleston High School in Ipswich, where the majority of girls go to "trousers only" schools.

Towns with a high population of Muslim students, such as Leeds, Grimsby, and Bradford, banned skirts for modesty reasons.

What do critics say?

Trans Actual, an advocacy group for trans people in the United Kingdom, said making all students wear pants isn't the answer.

"Things that trans people haven't asked for: schools to make everyone wear trousers. Things that trans people have asked for: the option for all students to choose whether to wear a skirt or trousers," Trans Actual tweeted.

What are the students saying?

Students at Phillips High School in Bury started a petition against the skirt ban, which is set to go into effect in September.

“We feel more confident wearing a skirt and school trousers are unflattering. Self-esteem issues are on the rise among teenagers, so making us unable to wear clothes we feel our best in will damage our mental health, and in turn our school performance,” the students  wrote in the petition, according to the Independent.

The petition also addresses the issue of the sexualization of girls' bodies.

“It is grossly inappropriate for staff members to sexualise and police the bodies of children in their care,” it continues. “There is nothing offensive about a child’s knee and lower thigh. If any teacher believes seeing a child’s leg is in any way ‘too sexual’ they should be sacked immediately for gross misconduct.”

What else?

Meanwhile, the Independent reported that some schools, including a high school in Oxfordshire, have banned boys from wearing shorts during the hot summer weather but will allow them to wear skirts.

A parent from Chiltern Edge School in Sonning Common asked school officials if her son could wear tailored shorts, or chino shorts, as they are called in the U.S. The mother was told "no" but was informed that the school's gender-neutral policy would allow her son to wear a skirt.

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