North London school could implement gender-neutral uniform

Gender-neutral bathroom

A north London private school could adopt a gender-neutral uniform following a consultation with members of the sixth form.

Highgate School is debating the introduction of ‘mix-and-match’ options for its students after an increasing number of children questioning gender roles and stereotypes.

The school, which costs up to £6,790 per term, has also been encouraged to allow all pupils to participate in all sports, as well as utilising unisex toilets.

Currently, girls are allowed to wear grey trousers, dark blue jackets and ties, however boys are not allowed to wear grey pleated skirts. This would change should the new dress code be introduced.

“We are asking them, should it be called uniform number one and uniform number two?,” said head Adam Pettitt.

Mr Pettitt said that the issue was raised during a question and answer session with a group of A-level students.

He said that this generation of children was increasingly questioning whether gender was binary and what defines a gender.

“We’re therefore exploring how our uniform policy could evolve to cater for those who do want to match clothing to gender, as well as those who don’t.”

He added: “In common with all other schools and youth organisations, yes, we are seeing greater numbers of pupils questioning gender identity than in the past.

“Having said that, in years gone by, absolutely no young people were raising it at all and it seems inconceivable that these sorts of questions simply didn’t exist.

“The fact that there is significantly greater support and information available, both in schools and elsewhere, means that young people need no longer feel afraid to ask questions or speak out about their feelings.

“If they feel happier and more secure in who they are, it must be a good thing,” he said.

Parents will be consulted before any changes would be implemented, but some former pupils of the school had written to complain that the school was “promoting the wrong ideas”.

There has also been calls from student equality groups for teachers to follow gender-neutral speech codes, as well as requesting a ban on phrases like “man up”.

Figures show a sharp rise in young people seeking to explore their gender identification, which has led to an increase in campaigns for gender neutrality.

Highgate School will be holding a conference next month called ‘The Developing Teenager’, with the conference seeking to examine how teachers should approach any issues caused by transgender and gender-neutral students.