Schools should be made to allow boys to wear skirts as part of a gender neutral uniform policy, an MP has said.
Layla Moran also revealed she spent six months as a school pupil thinking she was gay, as she insisted she had “no issue at all” with children learning about transgender issues.
The Liberal Democrat education spokesman is to table legislation for schools to be made to introduce gender neutral uniform policies to stop pupils being treated unfairly.
She said she was inspired to take up the cause after hearing from then-15 year-old Lib Dem member Jess Insall, who told the party’s conference in 2017 that she wanted to play football on breaks but was told she could not switch her skirt for trousers.
Describing it as a “feminist issue first and foremost”, Moran is bringing forward legislation designed to ensure English schools have either one uniform for all, or different types of uniform which children are allowed to wear regardless of their gender, mirroring recent changes in Wales.
It is “absolutely not” the state imposing what people should wear, she said.
“We’re not trying to make everyone wear trousers for example, it’s actually about giving people more choice not less choice.”
“Would the boys want to wear the skirts? Maybe they would, and what’s wrong with that? I see nothing wrong with that whatsoever.”
The MP said her campaign has also gained support in the transgender community, as children who are transitioning often feel “stigma” when they have to immediately change uniform.
“It’s quite an emotional thing for children who are considering transitioning, actually being forced at that point to come out – that’s the way that one family put it to me,” she said.
Moran also took on critics who suggest children are overly exposed to transgender issues.
“There was about six months at school when I thought I was gay. I wasn’t gay, but I thought about maybe I was? I imagined what would that be like 50 years ago when that was against god, you were a criminal if you did it in law.
“So I have no issue at all with putting all the different options out there on the table. Let’s encourage kids to feel like they have ownership of those and what they mean.
“And if they match that up to themselves, let them. What I don’t think you can do is force anyone to transition genders.
“The subtext of people who say that by putting the options on the table you’re encouraging people to do it suggests you can coerce people into changing gender. That makes no sense whatsoever.”
Laura Russell, head of policy at the Stonewall charity, said: “We welcome all efforts to ensure all young people feel included and accepted for who they are.
“All trans young people should be able to wear clothes that align with their identity at school. Not only that, but all children and young people benefit from being able to wear a uniform they feel comfortable in.
“We are working toward a world where all young trans people feel able to be themselves at school and are accepted without exception.”
Moran’s will present her school uniforms (gender neutrality) bill to the Commons on March 6.
It is not expected to become law without government support.
A Department for Education spokesperson made clear schools should be able to decide their own uniform policies.
They said: “We trust school leaders to make decisions about school uniform as they are best placed to ensure these policies meet the needs of their pupils.
“When putting together a uniform policy, a school must consider its obligations not to discriminate unlawfully on the grounds of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment or religion or belief. This is made clear in the guidance we publish to help schools understand their responsibilities.”