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Boarding schools urged to adopt ‘gender neutral’ uniform policies

At the recent Boarding Schools Association Conference Elly Barnes, chief executive officer of Educate and Celebrate, urged school officials to adopt “gender neutral” uniform policies.

Barnes and her charity focuses on making all schools and workplaces LGBT-friendly, which is a hugely important issue given that one in 10 people in the U.K. identify as LGBT.

“If it’s all right for a girl to wear trousers, why should a boy not be allowed to wear a skirt. We should be giving them the option,” said Barnes, who is an LGBT adviser with Birmingham City Council, at the conference on May 6.

The charity defines “gender neutral” as “allowing a positive choice and self-expression” and explains that gender neutral policies should go beyond combating homophobia, biphobia and transphobia to promote gender equality as a whole and stop forcing young people to conform to a particular gender from an early age.

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At the conference Barnes also urged schools to bring their equal opportunities policies up to date, promote same sex relationships in a positive manner and give staff training to become familiar with — and confident using — the language of the LGBT community.

She also called for schools to educate pupils on the LGBT struggle, reported The Independent.

“You ask anyone what do they know about the LGBT struggle and what’s the answer? It’s completely unnoticed,” she said. “This is not just an area for PSHE (personal, social and health education) or anti-bullying. It could be part of maths lessons, English lessons, science lessons. I’m not advocating all teachers suddenly start talking about lesbianism — but in the same way as you teach about the Holocaust and the yellow stars worn by the Jewish community, you could look at the significance of the black and the pink triangle.”

What do you think? Should boys be allowed to wear skirts to school? Let us know in the comments section below.

For more information on the campaign visit Educate and Celebrate.

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