End “gender specific” school uniforms, says children’s tsar

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Tam Baillie believes forcing gender specific uniforms on pupils could be breaking the law (Picture byrobertvan1)

BOYS should be allowed to wear skirts to school, according to Scotland’s Children’s Tsar.

Tam Baillie said “genders specific uniforms can cause serious distress” to children who feel they were born in the wrong body.

The Young peoples’ commissioner believes that forcing children to stick to strict uniform policies could contravene the UN convention on the Rights of the Child and the Equality Act 2010.

The latter law places a duty on public bodies to prevent discrimination on the grounds of gender-reassignment or sexual orientation.

Mr Ballie said: “I would agree that gender specific uniforms or dress codes can cause serious distress in gender-variant pupils.

“School uniforms and dress codes should not be discriminate, directly or indirectly against any of these protected groups.

“Schools should be reviewing their uniform code policies to ensure they do not have the effect of unlawfully discriminating against pupils with a protected characteristic.”

However he accepted that having a uniform acts as a “leveller” between children of differing financial backgrounds and helped reduce stigma and bullying.

Political correctness

He said: “This is clearly and issue which divides people and there are strong views on both sides.

“I believe we should be celebrating difference, rejecting discriminatory practice and allowing our children and young people to express themselves freely in a way that is both inclusive and respectful and helps them to develop a strong sense of who they are.

“I would suggest that a balance be struck between school dress codes on the one hand and the need for relaxation of requirements, where this is appropriate, on the other”

Mr Ballie made the comments as he lent his backing to a 13-year-old schoolboy’s campaign for boys to be allowed to wear the traditionally female clothing in class.

Luca Scarabello from Falkirk believes that if girls can wear trousers boys should be able to wear skirts.

The campaign is being backed by the Scottish Transgender Alliance and LGBT Scotland, which represents lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Luca wants new national rules on uniforms which give greater rights to school pupils.

MSP have been discussing the proposal to scrap “gender specific” uniforms.

However Mr Ballie thinks a blanket ban is not the way forward, with a more flexible approach being the preferred option, and he called for a debate on the teen’s proposals that traditional uniforms be replaces with more comfortable and cheaper alternatives.

But the proposals have been rubbished by family campaigners.

Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: “Schools should be free to make their own decisions about uniform policies in consultation with parents, without the constraints of political correctness.

“Gender is determined by objective biological facts and not by a person’s feelings, no matter how strong they may be.

“Rather than encouraging children to become what they are not, we need to help them recognise and accept what they are.

“To that end, maintaining a distinction between what boys and girls are required to wear can be positive and helpful for pupils struggling with gender identity issues.

“This is yet another case of the language of children’s rights being used in an attempt to add weight to what is nothing more than a personal minority view.

“To enforce it on everyone by force of law is undemocratic.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. The lack of logic in Normal Wells’s argument is pretty amazing.
    “Gender is determined by objective biological facts and not by a person’s feelings, no matter how strong they may be.”
    Actually no, that’s sex not gender, and even sex is mutable.
    ““Rather than encouraging children to become what they are not, we need to help them recognise and accept what they are.”
    Indeed, if somebody IS a boy who wants to wear a skirt we should recognise and accept that and allow him to be the way he is. If a trans girl is a trans girl then we should help her accept that and not force a load of stigma on to her.
    “To that end, maintaining a distinction between what boys and girls are required to wear can be positive and helpful for pupils struggling with gender identity issues.”
    Explain how making a trans kid wait years before being able to live as who they are is helping them?! Giving them free choice to explore without prejudice is helping them, whatever they decide is right for them in the long run.
    “To enforce it on everyone by force of law is undemocratic.”
    Enforce?! Wow. Since when was giving somebody CHOICE enforcement?

    Lets not forget that this isn’t just about kids who wish to transition, it’s also about (non-transsexual) feminine boys and masculine girls who wish to express themselves. It’s not just about discrimination on the basis of “gender-reassignment”, it’s also plain old sexism. Boys can do X and girls can do Y is NOT equality in any way.

  2. Trust some people to moan ‘political correctness’. Girls have been wearing trousers to school for ages around where I live. It’s about what’s practical. No Scot would let me get away with it but when is a skirt a skirt and a kilt a kilt? Right until the 1950’s small boys under 2 or so were dressed in dresses same as their sisters. Alexander the Great and those Macedonian sissies wore kilts into battle, they considered trousers barbarian. And Mr Baillie is so right – those children who feel themselves to be female, we need to get away from a culture that punishes them and makes their lives a misery. I have 2 small grandchildren, I don’t think either of them feel such a need to question their gender but if they did I know their parents have the understanding they would need. Schools do not have the right to make children desperately unhappy. What stood as ‘norm’ before changes, in all things.

    Mr Wells’ organisation seems to blame all on the “permissive culture” of the 1960s and has rather a focus on sex and its proper use as they see it. They seem to have a very specific religious outlook. I am sure none of them would let their sons go to school in a dress, possibly not their daughters in trousers. Of course children of such people never question their gender roles ….

    For the record, running a kids play bus project for 28 years, one of the constants was a dressing up box. The snottiest, Just Williams were the first to rummage in it and dress up in fashionable dresses, stuffing whatever up their chests and prancing around. Or the 7 year old who had a thing about a bridesmaid’s dress which he put on, whereupon all the kids pounced to find him a head-dress which he rejected impatiently until they found the right one. When he put it on I have never seen such a look of relief. They then rushed him off downstairs, and onto the pedal cart we had, as he was getting married. Not to anyone but he was getting married. A magic moment only kids could provide.

    His mother said “I do worry about Ryan a bit” and I said “Never mind. If you let him get it out of his system now, he won’t grow up to be an MP”.

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