Time’s up! The traditional, gendered story of girls in skirts and boys in trousers is being rewritten by schools across the world. Will this drastically change how the next generation grows up?
State schools across the UK are removing gender from their uniform policies, allowing students to wear whichever items they want. While this may seem small and inconsequential, decisions like this could have a phenomenal effect on society’s future.
As we are born into the world, society places us into one of two genders: male or female. Over time we are educated into the “acceptable” way to dress.
Recently more individuals are finding the confidence to identify as transgender or non-binary. Gender fluidity is fast becoming accepted and recognised in the mainstream, especially among “Generation Z”, and society is starting to catch up:
I’m so happy that they’ve introduced the new gender neutral school uniform policy in the UK. ?
— Becca (@BeccaEmilyB) 17 June 2016
My son will not be wearing a skirt to school ? https://t.co/C7VpxfdJVr
— An’toinette (@AyeThompsonxo) 13 June 2016
Congratulations Allens Croft Primary for having gender neutral uniform. We’ll follow suit! #equality
— Sarah HewittClarkson (@MrsSHC) June 14, 2016
As British schools allow gender-neutral uniform and with that the freedom to experiment with (stereotypically) female and male items of clothing, the amount of people identifying as transgender and genderfluid will likely increase. Not because schools are forcing boys to wear skirts, but because children with those qualities will be free to explore their identity.
Is this good for society? Perhaps. The increase in genderfluidity could pressure those with discriminatory attitudes to accept the normality of non-binary gender. It could also lessen the difficulties of “coming out” as transgender and the depression and anxiety associated with the teenage struggle for identity.
Clothing items come loaded with assumptions. While Scottish men in kilts are supposedly striking and sexy, the mere thought of a man tangled up in a denim skirt is treated as outlandish and comical.
Yet if males started wearing skirts every day our perceptions would change. High heels, for example, used to be a “male” item worn by horse riders until they received a fashion makeover. Fashion is determined by society, not by some overriding set of morals.
Maybe we don’t all harmoniously share the same views. Maybe you believe that if every school in the UK adopts gender-neutral policies, cisgenders will become the minority and the birth rate will plummet, leaving us to live in a skirt wearing depopulated wasteland.
That’s an extremely unrealistic vision, but there’s no denying policies like this will bring in some change over the years: as attitudes to gender change, so too will attitudes to relationships and even reproduction. Gender-neutral uniform policies are just another sign of the new, emerging set of ideals our future will be built on.