London private school may let boys wear skirts in push for gender-neutral uniforms

Highgate School is considering mix-and-match outfits for pupils.
Highgate School is considering mix-and-match outfits for pupils.PHOTO: GOOGLE MAPS

Boys could be allowed to wear skirts at a north London private school if a plan for gender-neutral uniforms comes through.

Highgate School is considering mix-and-match outfits for pupils, after head teachers said an increasing number of children were questioning their gender, the BBC reported on Monday (May 15).

The school for pupils aged three to 18, which charges up to £6,790 (S$12,240) a term, has also been encouraged to allow unisex toilets and make all sports open to all pupils.

Female students at the school can wear grey trousers, dark blue jackets and ties.

Boys, however, are not allowed to wear grey pleated skirts, although they would be allowed to under the new proposed dress code.

"We are asking them, should it be called uniform number one and uniform number two?" principal Adam Pettitt was quoted by the BBC as saying.

He said the issue of a gender-neutral uniform had come up during question-and-answer sessions with his A-level students. This generation of young people was really questioning the binary way people look at things, Mr Pettitt said.

"We're therefore exploring how our uniform policy could evolve to cater for those who do want to match clothing to gender, as well as those who don't."

However, Mr Pettitt acknowledged that some former pupils had written in to complain that the school was "promoting the wrong ideas".

Co-educational independent boarding school Brighton College, where Mr Pettitt is a governor, has rolled out a similar gender-neutral uniform.

Student equality groups have called for teachers to follow gender-neutral speech codes and for a ban on phrases such as "man up". There has also been a sharp increase in the number of young people seeking help to change gender.

Next month, Highgate School will hold a conference called The Developing Teenager, to explore how teachers should approach issues raised by transgender and gender-neutral students.