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Skirts ban at English schools sparks debate, pupils against it

Staff Writer |
More than 40 high schools in England have banned female students from wearing skirts.

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New gender-neutral school uniform policies mean both boys and girls are required to wear trousers, the Sunday Times (ST) in London said.

The ST said the policy, already adopted in over 40 schools with more consulting on the change, has been introduced to cater for transgender students.

The report cites Copleston High School, in Ipswich, which has placed skirts on a list of unacceptable items alongside "skinny jeans and facial piercings".

Meanwhile at Bury, near Manchester, skirts at Woodhey High School were deemed undignified and embarrassing for staff and visitors when girls sit on the floor for assembly and in drama classes.

On Tuesday, the national government is expected to publish a consultation paper to clarify the rights of transgender people in changes to the Gender Recognition Act.

The change in uniform policy is generating a national debate, with some critics of the ban arguing all children should be offered a choice on what they want to wear.

Philips High School in Bury is planning to make wearing trousers compulsory for both boys and girls next year. But students have gathered hundreds of signatures on a petition arguing that a ban on skirts is "sexualising" pupils' bodies. Its female pupils also argue that they feel more confident in skirts and forcing them into trousers could "damage our mental health", says the ST.

Writer Naomi Wolf told the ST: "I think that trousers-only for everyone is a silly way to go, unless you are going to also offer the option of skirts-only for everyone. I believe that if everyone is offered the option of both skirts and trousers, everyone can find his, her or their comfortable fit."

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