Legendary students from Newtown High School of Performing Arts made a case to their school leaders about why uniforms shouldn’t be prescribed or limited based on gender; basically that anyone should be able to wear any and all elements of the school uniform despite whether those items had been labelled as for ‘boys’ or ‘girls.’
And this week THEY BLOODY WELL WON!
Prior to the decision, students had to go through a long bureaucratic process to wear the uniform of their choosing. They had to get parental permission and even attain a psychologist’s note before they could wear the clothes they were most comfy in. You can probably imagine that this paperwork/discussions/appointment rigamarole wouldn’t have been super easy for anyone.
Jo Dwyer, a Year 11 student, told SMH: “Our aim was to remove the un-inclusive gender labels from the school uniform, and make it so that anyone could wear any aspect of the uniform without having to go through a long and difficult process.”
The move clearly had the support of the students and has set an example of inclusivity for schools across Australia garnering a lot of attention from external communities.
Research shows that 61 per cent of transgender and gender diverse young people experience verbal abuse, 41 per cent have hidden at school and 20 per cent go as far as dropping out of school all together. This is why this type of change can have a really significant impact on the wellbeing of gender diverse students in the environment where they spend most of their time.
Safe Schools Coalition Australia and its supporters welcome moves taken by school communities to create more supportive and inclusive school environments for gender diverse young people. The Safe Schools Coalition Australia team has encouraged other schools around the country to consider what they can do to make their schools more inclusive.
Giving students the freedom to express their gender in the uniform of their choosing is a really important step in making people feel like they’re in control of their own lives. The consequences of not supporting a young person’s gender identity can be extremely negative for, not only their health and wellbeing, but also their ability to learn and socialise. Taking the pressure off gender at school will benefit all the students, in particular those who are gender diverse or transgender.
All we can say to these change-makin’ students is GREAT JOB, YOU WONDERFUL HUMAN BEINGS! Increasing inclusivity and gender awareness in schools creates a safer and more enjoyable atmosphere for every student.