What do our Next Gen writers think about the London private school bringing in skirts for boys? From 10 to 18 years of age, students weigh in on a possible gender-neutral future.
With the recent news that a London private school is considering bringing in gender-neutral uniforms, The Big Smoke didn’t want to hear what parents thought – we wanted to hear from kids at school. We wanted to understand how kids feel when they hear phrases such as “man up” and whether or not they felt comfortable with the idea of throwing away gendered uniform stereotypes entirely.
From a 10-year-old to an 18-year-old, our TBS Next Gen weigh in on the issue of gender equality and whether or not moves like this are the way of the future.
Michael Baikie Walker, 10 years old
When I read that Highgate School was considering gender-neutral uniforms, I did think it made sense. I think that schools should be looking at changing uniform policies to make them gender neutral. The reason we go to school is to get an education. How are we meant to focus on learning when we are forced to dress in a uniform that we feel uncomfortable in?
I think it is a good thing that we try to move away from continuing gender stereotypes. We shouldn’t tell people to “man up” or say “you throw like a girl.” Comments like this might be said for fun, but kids struggling could be hurt by them and I don’t think they should be a normal part of schoolyard talk anymore.
We should be allowed to be who we are and feel comfortable to wear clothes that make us feel good about ourselves. If boys are comfortable wearing skirts, then schools should allow this, just as girls are allowed to wear pants.
Giselle Atlas, 11 years old
Gender neutral. What is “gender neutral” you may ask? Well it is when you are impartial to something – and in this case, gender. I have heard that a school in London has decided to bring forth the option that children can have gender-neutral uniforms. For example: say a young boy asked if he could wear a skirt to school because he was not sure about his gender, to this the school will soon be able to say yes.
But, is this really the way this school should be operating? If you are going to diminish the whole “uniform policy” and you want children to be themselves, why don’t you just get rid of the policy altogether?
I love having a school uniform. You know why? Because I cannot be judged because of the way I look or how much money my parents have. And of course kids can be rude and call names, but do you want these kids to be more of a bullying target? Kids should be able to find their own path when they get older and wiser, not because they are young and immature.
Sam Oborn, 18 years old
As a student myself, I always enjoy seeing the groups of people creating small amount of rebellion against the system without causing too much grief for the staff who are just trying to complete their job. The “let’s wear a skirt and claim it’s a protest so we get more attention” idea has been done a hundred and one times before and is actually done at my school with the leaving year twelves as a “muck-up day giggle and gaff.” While I think the idea that everyone should be able to wear whatever they please, I am skeptical of their intentions.
On the school board side of things, balancing the satisfaction between the traditional, conservative, and old school ways and their opposites consisting of the growing group of youth who speak out for their safe spaces and promoting their proud social justice status may prove an interesting juggle for the administration. Uniform was a system created to keep formality in schools and to maintain the idea that no one’s class matters as you all wear the same outfit. With this in mind, I never thought that skirts weren’t allowed for boys rather that it was accustomed that boys just don’t wear them.
But the main part that should be praised is unisex bathrooms. They are brilliant and those who need them will relish the fact that someone understands them and they aren’t alone in this great big world. Additionally, bathroom anxiety can be an issue for a lot of people as using the bathroom makes you feel quite vulnerable and unisex bathrooms could mean a little bit of that pressure can be taken off. So, in my opinion, wear whatever uniform you want to wear appropriately and without persecution.
Good luck to the future school administration who are going to have to deal with an ever-evolving society of political correctness. And finally, much love to those who are struggling to understand their sexuality and gender. Learning to understand yourself is an uphill battle, but I promise you it’ll be worth the fight.
Chloe Drougas, 13 years old
From birth, we are brainwashed to follow these ideals and believe it is normal instead of making our own choices and having our own individual preferences. While things are changing, it’s all taking far too long. We automatically put female babies in pink and males in blue, hospitals even color code while a baby is in the womb.
Stereotypes are just made up. Everyone deserves equal rights and everyone should aim to be a good person, no matter who you are or what stereotypes tell you to do. Don’t conform, be happy.
My children, whether boys or girls, are going to be called Reid and Floyd. They will wear whatever they fancy, in any color they crave, play any game they want (with what they want), and have whatever friends or partners they desire. Because whether we are boy or girl, short, tall, blue-eyed, brown-eyed, cruel or kind … we are all humans, aren’t we? There are no rules apart from made up, silly ones stopping us from being who we are.
This is paraphrased from Chloe’s article for TBS Next Gen “Boy or girl – Can you tell?”
This article is part of a series for The Big Smoke Next Gen.
The Big Smoke Next Gen is a program which matches professional and experienced writers, academics and journalists with students who wish to write nonfiction articles and voice their opinions on what is shaping the nation.
For more information about our program at The Big Smoke or to become a mentor, please contact Loretta.Barnard @ thebigsmoke.com.au.