British schools move to improve pupil experience with gender neutral uniforms

Eighty schools across the UK, half of them primary, will allow pupils to come to class dressed in items of clothing they most feel comfortable in

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[Flickr/ThatClaw]

In 80 state schools across the UK, including 40 primary schools, a new uniform policy has been unveiled which will allow pupils to wear whichever approved uniform garments they are most comfortable wearing.

In a number of schools, the policy, welcomed by campaigners working to improve the school experience for students who identify as LGBTQ, goes as far as omitting any references to gender, allowing pupils to wear items of clothing that are more traditionally worn by the gender with which they identify.

Speaking to Mashable, a spokesperson for the British Department of Education (DfE) said that the new uniform rules were not a top-down policy, rather changes resulting from a new government grant offered by the British government to schools who make moves to become more inclusive to the LGBTQ community.

“The money we have allocated is specifically to target homophobic and transphobic bullying in school to ensure no child has their lives blighted by bullying and can reach their full potential in school,” the spokesperson said.

“It is up to [school principals] to set the right uniforms for their schools, taking into account parents’ wishes and pupil needs.”

Allens Croft Primary School, a Birmingham-based school catering for 300 pupils, was among the earliest adopters of the gender-neutral uniform policy, receiving £200,000 (€252,000) in funding from the British government. The school’s prospectus advises parents to send their children to school in “comfortable sensible clothes,” but does not ascribe any gendered norms to that - meaning boys are not forbidden from wearing skirts, nor girls from wearing trousers.

Allens Croft head teacher Paula Weaver says that “acceptance is part of the school’s ethos,” and that trans inclusivity is “extremely important” to the school community.

“It’s something I think is really important, and all our students dress in a way that makes them comfortable,” Weaver added.

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