Lewes school adopts new 'gender neutral' uniform policy

image captionReturning students have the option to wear either trousers or skirts

A secondary school is making its uniform "gender neutral" by prohibiting new joiners from wearing skirts.

Priory School in Lewes, East Sussex, made the change after "concerns" raised over the length of skirts, and catering for a handful of transgender pupils.

Starting this autumn term, all new students must wear trousers, while returning students have the option to wear either trousers or skirts.

Head teacher Tony Smith said the move addresses "inequality and decency".

Skorts allowed in heatwaves

He added: "Respecting people's rights are very important. We believe in rights and responsibilities, we believe in equality and we believe in fairness. We want to treat everybody the same.

"We hope that it will provide a smart, comfortable and affordable alternative to the current uniform."

From now, all new pupils at the school will have identical shirt, tie, jumper and trousers, with an alternative summer uniform, following complaints about how unsuitable the previous uniform was during the hotter months.

Pupils will now be able to wear a polo shirt and trousers, and in extremely high temperatures, PE shorts or skorts - shorts made to look like skirts.

image copyrightPriory School
image captionThe new uniform "addresses the current issues of inequality and decency" said the head teacher

Frank Furedi, sociologist at the University of Kent said: "You start with uniform on Monday, by Tuesday you're going to say, 'maybe we shouldn't use the pronouns he and she'.

"By Wednesday, you're going to talk about having gender neutral bathrooms. In so doing, you're raising fundamental questions about people's identity."

Some parents have supported the move. One interviewed outside the school said: "[My daughter] will whinge about wearing trousers, but it's tough.

"There's certain work uniforms you have to wear and it's tough. It's not a fashion show, she's there to learn."

Other pupils and parents were critical on social media though - saying its "too draconian" - and unfair that older pupils would still be allowed to wear skirts.

Posting on BBC South East's Facebook page, Jeanetta Kelsey said: "What happened to a bit of choice? Skirts, shorts, trousers, as long as it's uniform."

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