02/07/2018 10:29 BST | Updated 02/07/2018 12:38 BST

'My Daughter Wouldn't Be Happy': Should Schools Ban Skirts To Be More Gender Neutral?

What would your child say? We asked parents.

An analysis of school uniform policies across England has shown an increasing number of secondaries are moving towards a no-skirt rule for pupils.

The research, by The Times, showed at least 40 schools across the country now have a gender-neutral uniform that includes trousers but not skirts, and others are consulting on a similar ban. 

Priory School, in Lewes, East Sussex, banned skirts in 2017 after pupils questioned staff about why the uniform was different for boys and girls, and said that transgender students must be taken into account.

But parents, like Alan, 34 from Birmingham has told HuffPost UK their children would not be pleased with a ban on skirts: “My daughter would not be happy about that - she’s 10 years old and she’s a real girl’s girl,” he said. “I think girls should be allowed to be individuals.”

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Grandmother Janet, 59, from Solihull, was more supportive of the ban, explaining: “I doesn’t really make a difference does it, as long as they are at school to learn, what they are wearing when they are there should be a secondary concern.”

And Sara, 18, who only left school this year, said that she would have “preferred” to have a gender neutral policy at school. “Although I do know plenty of girls who would have been really annoyed,” she added.

Copleston High School, in Ipswich, has taken one of the strongest stances on skirts, placing them on a list of unacceptable items alongside “skinny jeans and facial piercings”. 

Not all schools made the decision because of calls from students - Woodhey High School in Bury said the move was prompted by teacher discomfort, saying skirts were “undignified and embarrassing” for staff when girls sit on the floor.

In March this year, HuffPost UK reported that Dr Mary Bousted, president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said that girls were being forced to wear shorts under their skirts to stop boys taking upskirting photographs.

Bousted said she believed sexual harassment is becoming “normalised” in schools, due to the increase in kids who have camera phones.

In Bradford, schools with a high proportion of Muslim pupils do not allow skirts on modesty grounds. Bans are also common in Leeds and Grimsby.