London school considers allowing boys to wear skirts as part of uniform shake-up

Updated 2017-05-17 10:30:26 Xinhua
Kids from London Chobham Academy School play in the children's play areas in the newly transformed south of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on April 2, 2014 before it opens to the public on 5 April 2014 for the first time since London Olympic Games 2012. (Xinhua/Wang Lili)

Kids from London Chobham Academy School play in the children's play areas in the newly transformed south of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on April 2, 2014 before it opens to the public on 5 April 2014 for the first time since London Olympic Games 2012. (Xinhua/Wang Lili)

An exclusive private school in London is exploring whether boy students should be allowed to wear skirts as part of an overhaul of its uniform policy.

Highgate School in London, which charges fees of around 26,000 U.S. dollars a year, has launched a consultation with students and parents about introducing gender neutral uniforms.

Girl students are already allowed to wear grey trousers, dark blue jackets and ties. Boys are not currently allowed to wear grey pleated skirts worn by their female classmates, although they would be under the new proposed dress code.

Media in Britain said mix-and-match outfits for male and female students at Highgate were being considered after head teachers said that growing numbers of children were questioning their gender. The school is also looking at unisex toilets and open all sports to all pupils irrespective of gender.

Head teacher Adam Pettitt said the issue of a gender neutral uniform had come up during question and answer sessions with his A-Level students.

He said young people were questioning the binary way people look at things, adding: "We're exploring how our uniform policy could evolve to cater for those who do want to match clothing to gender, as well as those who don't."

Pettitt added: "We are seeing greater numbers of pupils questioning gender identity than in the past. The fact that there is significantly greater support and information available, both in schools and elsewhere, means that young people need no longer feel afraid to ask questions or speak out about their feelings. If they feel happier and more secure in who they are, it must be a good thing."

Pettitt said parents would be consulted before changes were introduced, but acknowledged that some former pupils had written to complain the school was "promoting the wrong ideas."

Highgate School is hosting a conference next month which will examine how teachers should approach issues raised by transgender and gender neutral students.

More than 2,000 under-18s were referred to the Gender Identity Clinic at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in north London last year, compared to just 100 referrals when the clinic started its service eight years ago.

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