Australian schoolgirl (Sofia) wins right to wear shorts instead of skirt to school
SYDNEY, Australia — Women at public schools throughout the state of Western Australia will be permitted to wear shorts and pants to class, no longer limited to just dresses, skirts or skorts.
Pupils and parents have long voiced complaints about the coverage, but the pushback has gained renewed momentum.
Following Krystina Myhre, of Perth, found that her 11-year-old, Sofia, couldn’t wear shorts to school, they wrote to the nation’s education minister, Sue Ellery, calling for a shift.
“My daughter and her friends have been very unhappy about it for a while,” stated Ms. Myhre, who’s also a representative of Girls’ Uniform Agenda, a group that campaigns for women to have the choice of wearing shorts and shorts. The rule restricted their movement, she said, which makes them worry about their own body and space.
The dress code made it hard to take part in athletic activities, Sofia said.
“I think it’s really unfair that my brothers are permitted to wear shorts, and throughout primary school I have not been permitted to except when I’ve game,” she wrote in her letter. “I actually love kicking the footy, netball and performing handstands in recess and lunch. It’s bothersome doing these things in a skirt.”
The change doesn’t apply to private colleges, but several private schools in Perth reported this week that they intended to follow suit. “We’re introducing trousers for women next year, but it is very much a choice,” said Robert Henderson, principal of John XXIII College, a Catholic private school. “It is definitely not throwing out the traditional uniform.” The decision came after consulting with workers, pupils and parents.
It’s unclear how many schools around Australia require women to wear skirts.
Up to now, about 70 percent of public high schools and all private high schools in Brisbane, Queensland, mandate wearing a skirt, ” said Amanda Mergler, a co-founder of this group, but a couple of private schools make it possible for exceptions in the winter. That percentage is probably similar in other nations, too.
This type of requisite, Dr. Mergler said, can perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes, leaving women to think that they ought to sit and look pretty, while boys might be perceived as active explorers. Dr. Mergler said she pulled her 6-year-old daughter from 1 school after a classmate told her she couldn’t use the girls’ toilet because she was wearing trousers. “They’re sitting back on the sidelines and watching boys run around and playing in shorts.”
1 research in 2012 discovered that when 10-year-old women wore sports uniforms over skirts, they were significantly more active during recess.
Most education departments allow individual schools decide dress code, even though they often have a provision that the guidelines must comply with anti-discrimination policies. In New South Wales, by way of instance, the department says that rules should adapt the “diverse nature of the student population from the school and not disadvantage any student.”
Due to the ambiguity in language, Dr. Mergler said, colleges can claim they’re complying with the code simply by providing boys and girls uniforms. Automobiles in Queensland continue to lobby for an amended policy following an attempt to permit women to wear trousers was rejected in May.
In Victoria, a request to modify the policy has attracted over 20,000 signatures.
Most arguments appear to rest on tradition.
“I think heritage plays a strong role in our schools, and we frequently wish to honor these traditions,” Mr. Henderson said. His school will offer the choice to wear trousers, he said, but that should be for colleges to decide on an individual basis.
“Surely in private schools, there is an element of longstanding conventions and parents occasionally thinking, ‘I went to this school and that I wore that dress, and I’d like my daughter to wear this dress,”’ Dr. Mergler said.
When she first broached the concept of amending the dress code at her daughter’s school, some parents defended skirts as a means to accustom women to wearing dresses at work.
“In the actual world, girls get to choose,” Dr. Mergler said. “I choose now whether I wear trousers or skirts, and we need women to have the same option at colleges.”
In terms of Sofia Myhre, her mother said that the exercise was a fantastic lesson in effecting change.