Several schools in the UK have made the move towards gender neutral uniforms, as a new academic year begins for many British students.
Schools across the country have disavowed labelling uniforms by gender, and instead opted for the gender neutral descriptors ‘uniform A’ and ‘uniform B’. Some institutions, like Wellington, a mixed private school in Somerset, have introduced a third option, ‘uniform C’, which it says allows students to make “a considered and thoughtful choice” about their outfits in relation to their gender identity.
Primary schools are also following suit, with Blofield primary school in Norwich allowing its students, who range from four to 11, to choose their uniform based on their “self-identified gender”, as of 2022. According to the school’s official uniform policy, this shift aims “to give all pupils the opportunity to wear the uniform they feel most comfortable in.”
Echoing a similar sentiment, Brighton College, the most expensive boarding school in Britain, said, “ we do not have a ‘Girls’ Uniform’ and a ‘Boys’ Uniform’, rather a ‘Uniform A’ and a ‘Uniform B.’”
The school said they hoped this policy would “enable the College to make suitable provision for a pupil who wants to make a thoughtful and considered choice about the clothes worn at school in relation to their gender identity.”
Stevensons, one of the largest uniform retailers in the UK, made their offering gender neutral in 2019.
At the time, Mark Stevenson, managing director of the company, said, “we’re in the process of removing all references, direct and indirect, to boys and girls in the lines that we sell,” adding that they were “even changing the colours of the packaging that clothes come in to a gender-neutral colour.”
A recent study by The Mail On Sunday found that, four years down the line, a majority of the 550 schools Stevenons supplies have now also adopted gender-neutral uniform policies.
The movement has also gained traction in Australia, with Hunter’s Hill High School announcing in 2021 that they would abandon separate boys and girls uniforms, instead letting students choose from a range of items.
Speaking on the decision, Principal Greg Lill said, “Like a lot of high schools around here, we have students who identify in various ways, whether they’re gay or or gender diverse or undergoing transition.
“What we’ve created is just an environment where kids can be comfortable wearing the uniform without there being any judgement around gender.”
Private all-girls school SCEGGS in Darlinghurst reflected a similar ethos, after introducing trousers to their uniform offering.
But despite many schools jumping on board the movement, not everyone is happy about the shift.
Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, a right-wing UK organisation campaigning for ‘traditional’ schooling, told the publication: “Schools are adding to the mental health problems of children who, after going into school, no longer know what gender they belong to. It’s time we had a government with the backbone to intervene.”