Centuries-old uniform code dropped as school embraces 'gender fluidity'

20th January 2016 at 13:43
school axes gender-specific uniforms

A top private school has scrapped its traditional uniform to accommodate gender dysphoric pupils.

Brighton College said it had dropped the 170-year-old code to meet the needs of pupils who did not feel comfortable identifying with their biological sex.

The school is introducing a "trouser uniform" and a "skirt uniform" for pupils up to age 16. Girls who have gender dysphoria will be able to wear a tweed blazer, tie and trousers, while dysphoric boys will be able to wear a skirt, bolero jacket and open-neck blouse.

At least one pupil has already taken up the option, Brighton College said, while a handful of other families have made inquiries on behalf of their own children.

The move is in reaction to a changing society that recognises that some children have gender dysphoria and do not want school to force them into an identity with which they feel uncomfortable, the college said.

Headmaster Richard Cairns said: "This change follows requests from a small number of families. It ties in with my strong personal belief that youngsters should be respected for who they are.

“If some boys and girls are happier identifying with a different gender from that in which they were born, then my job is to make sure that we accommodate that. My only interest as headmaster is their welfare and happiness.”

The college's approach is different from most other schools, which have tended to give transgender children personal leeway with uniform.

Sixth-former Fred Dimbleby said he was proud to attend a school where "there is no concept of the norm, of conformity and of the expected way to be".

He added: "Everyone has supported this move, and I think that there is a real sense of unity, from the headmaster to the youngest third-former, about this idea.

"Students who are gender fluid, or for any reason decide to change the uniform that they wear, will be accepted, supported and encouraged by the whole school.

"I think it would be great if all schools took up this idea. Secondary school is such a formative period for people so it's important to encourage people to be who they are and who they want to be."

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