As the new academic year begins for many students this week, schools across the UK have decided to stop specifically naming boys’ and girls’ outfits and instead now call them a gender-neutral “uniform A” and “uniform B».
Primary and secondary schools, as well as sixth form colleges and private schools, including the likes of Brighton College, have made edits to their uniform descriptions, with some saying it helps the students wear clothes that “most reflect their self-identified gender”.
In many cases “boy” and “girl” have been removed from any documents regarding the school’s uniform policy and replaced by “Uniform A” and “Uniform B. ” Some schools have also introduced a third option of “uniform C”.
In 2019, one of the UK’s biggest school uniform providers, Stevensons, said that it would be gender-neutral by default and no longer market uniforms for boys or girls. In new research undertaken by The Mail on Sunday of 550 schools Stevensons supplies, the newspaper found that most had now adopted gender-neutral uniform policies.
Blofield primary school in Norwich altered its uniform policy last year to allow children aged four to 11 to pick clothing based on their “self-identified gender”. It said that to prevent discrimination it would “avoid listing uniform items based on sex, to give all pupils the opportunity to wear the uniform they feel most comfortable in or that most reflects their self-identified gender”.
Wellington, the private mixed boarding and day school in Somerset, has chose to name its uniforms A, B and C. It says its options let pupils make “a considered and thoughtful choice” but “a combination of ABC is not allowed. »
Ellesmere Port Church of England College, in Cheshire, does not use the words boy or girl to “ensure all pupils feel part of the College’s community. ”
Brighton College, an independent school named as “School of the decade” by the Sunday Times in 2020 has also implemented uniform A and uniform B. It says: “We do not have a ‘girls’ uniform’ and a ‘boys’ uniform’, rather a ‘uniform A’ and a ‘uniform B’. . . we hope the nomenclature will 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. For example, a girl who feels more comfortable wearing a shirt and tie may choose to wear uniform B. ”
However, not everyone is in agreement about the major shift to gender-neutral uniforms.
Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, told the Mail on Sunday: “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. ”
Lucy Marsh, from the Family Education Trust, added: “It’s about time that parents got together to push back against this. ”