Trousers are warmer, more practical, flexible and cheaper than skirts. They are worn by people of all ages, cultures and beliefs. In schools across the globe, trousers for girls are commonplace. Yet many schools across the UK – primary, secondary, public and private, faith and non-faith – insist that girls must wear skirts only, and send home any girl who dares to wear trousers.
I am a founding member of Trousers for All, a UK-wide group created in September 2015 that campaigns to create awareness about the issue of girls being banned from wearing trousers, and to put pressure to overturn it. We maintain that the trouser ban is gender discrimination and therefore breaches the Equality Act 2010. We believe that uniform should not be determined by gender, so people of any gender should be allowed to wear trousers and skirts as they wish. We urge the Department for Education to issue mandatory rules for schools that require pupils to wear uniform to adopt gender-neutral uniform policies for all pupils.
The Trousers for All campaign has received warm support from a range of people and organisations, including social media star Dylan Evan who made the hilarious video Should Girls be Able to Wear Pants for School?, the National Union of Students, the University of Manchester’s JustFest festival, Beatrix Campbell (OBE for services to equality) and other high-profile contributors.
We invite Big Issue North readers to visit our website and let us know of any past, current and planned campaigns to make school uniforms non-discriminatory. A special plea to those with a passion for writing music: please send us your “trouser song” – ideally easy to sing so it can be sung by all who care about equality. We will also be delighted to receive trouser poems (which we will try to musicalise) and any other artistic contribution to the cause. We shall display these on the Trousers for All website.
Katia Chornik, University of Manchester
Photo: Boris Chornik