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Highgate School's Plans For Gender Neutral Uniform Should Be Taken Up By All Schools, Charities Urge

'It sends a very strong message of inclusion to students.'

15/05/2017 14:48 BST

A private school’s announcement that it is considering scrapping separate boys’ and girls’ uniforms has been welcomed by LGBT and gender nonconformity charities.

Adam Pettitt, head of Highgate School, in north London, announced that he is consulting his pupils and their parents about a gender-neutral uniform that would allow all pupils to have the choice of wearing trousers or skirts. 

He told The Sunday Times that if being allowed to wear skirts meant some boys “feel happier and more secure in who they are, it must be a good thing”.

Tom Merton via Getty Images

At present, girls attending the school can wear grey trousers or a grey pleated skirt, but boys cannot choose to wear the skirts. 

The statement was applauded by a spokesperson for LGBT charity Stonewall.

“We welcome all efforts to ensure all young people feel included and accepted for who they are when at school,” they said.

“This move signifies Highgate School’s support for a world where all people are accepted without exception.” 

Susie Green, CEO of Mermaids UK, a charity working to raise awareness about gender nonconformity in children, hopes that we are getting towards a time when boys choosing to wear skirts is no longer an issue.

“As an example of what all schools should be doing this is excellent,” she said. “It sends a very strong message of inclusion to students.

“The number of people this will affect may be relatively small, but from discussions with parents and young people we know that transgender children often have a difficult time when socially transitioning. It can be a nerve-wracking experience.

“Knowing there is no gender conformity within the uniform and having an inclusive school environment, can help take the sting out of it.

“We know lots of schools are doing this without any fanfare, and it is so simple to implement. All heads have to do is say all pupils can choose to wear anything on the uniform list.

“For any pupils who are struggling, this sends out a strong message that we’re here for you and we support you.”

Pettitt explains, in a blog hosted on HuffPost UK, that a discussion with his students following the death of George Michael, who lived close to the school, prompted him to think about “gender identity and gender neutrality, and what the school could do to make such a quest more navigable.”

“I was keen that nothing we say should keep or send anyone into any kind of closet,” he wrote. 

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