'Gender neutral' school uniform sparks protests

Pupils at the East Sussex school staged a protest. [Photo: PA]
Pupils at the East Sussex school staged a protest. [Photo: PA]

Pupils and parents at Lewes Priory school in East Sussex have staged a protest after the school strictly enforced a gender neutral dress code.

The school told pupils that anybody who arrived at school in a skirt would be sent home to change.

They were only told about the new uniform rules days before they were due back at school for the new term.

The students argued that the move was “sexist” as it only impacted female pupils. Sustainability was also thrown into the debate, with people carrying banners reading: “Fast fashion is the second biggest contributor to climate change.”

The school announced that it would be changing its rules for the first time in 2017, after the length of pupil’s skirts caused “concern” and in a bid to accommodate transgender students.

However, at the time, only new pupils were required to wear the new uniform.

Then, after almost six weeks off school, the high school appeared to backtrack on its earlier decision and demanded that all pupils should wear the “gender neutral” uniform.

The school locked its gates on the protest, meaning many students couldn’t get into school, prompting Sussex Police to get involved.

READ MORE: School uniforms in Wales are now gender-neutral

Piers Morgan, who is a former pupil of the school, said on Twitter: “Speaking as a former Priory student, I’d like to state that this is absolutely bloody ridiculous, and the protesting parents & students have my full support. This whole gender neutral craze is out of control. Let girls be girls & boys be boys.”

The protest encouraged a wider debate on Twitter, with one user asking “Serious question: why are trousers “gender neutral,” but not skirts? What actually is “gender neutral” clothing?!”

READ MORE: Lady Gaga launches gender neutral make-up range

A spokesperson for the Priory School said: “Our uniform also helps us to dilute the status placed on expensive clothes or labels and challenge the belief that we are defined by what we wear. Instead, we encourage individual beliefs, ideas, passions and wellbeing and an ethos of camaraderie that is reflected in this shared experience.”

“We believe that a uniform worn without modification is the best way to ensure equality.”

“We do not want children feeling vulnerable and stressed by the pressure they feel to wear or own the latest trend or status symbol.”

“Priory School is not unusual in having trousers as the uniform item for all students. There are at least 40 other schools which have a similar uniform requirement.”

“Our core purpose remains the quality of teaching and learning and we aim to achieve this by maximising the time spent on planning, delivering and evaluating the quality of provision.”

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