This primary school now has a genderless uniforms policy


A school in New Zealand has dropped gender restrictions on its uniforms, allowing any student to wear any of its uniform options.

Most schools that have uniforms traditionally impose trousers or shorts for boys and skirts or dresses for girls.

In 2015, following complaints by some female pupils that the policy perpetuated gender stereotypes, Dunedin North Intermediate school agreed to allow girls to wear trousers. But after the girls were teased for looking liked boys, the primary school expanded its range of uniforms to be genderless.

It now offers five uniform options – shorts, long shorts, a kilt, trousers or culottes (knee-length trousers resembling a skirt) – which can be worn by pupils of any gender.

So far none of the male students have chosen to wear the kilt, but it would be “totally fine,” Heidi Hayward, principal of Dunedin North Intermediate, told The Guardian.

“I would take offence to being told I had to wear a skirt to work every day because I am female, so this is about being responsive to the kids telling us we are perpetuating gender stereotypes, and what is going on in society at the moment,” she said.

Speaking to The Project NZ, Hayward added: “In order to learn we want kids to be really comfortable, and to be comfortable you’ve got to feel like you’re yourself.”

The issue of gender and uniforms has been a contentious one in South Africa. It is unconstitutional for a school to bar any pupil from wearing a uniform that the learner believes accurately reflects their true gender identity. Despite this, there have been instances of schools imposing traditional gender norms on learners.

Most recently, the Ndala High School in KZN expelled lesbian learner Nokwazi Shelembe for refusing to wear a skirt. Earlier this month the Seshego Equality Court ruled in favour of a transgender woman in Limpopo who was the victim of abuse from her principal while she was at school.

In a more progressive move, in November last year, the Westerford High School in Cape Town introduced new gender neutral hair and jewellery regulations: Boys are now also allowed to wear long hair in ponytails and ‘manbuns’, as well as a single stud or sleeper in each ear.

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