Boarding schools told to adopt gender neutral uniform policies

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Boarding schools have been told to adopt gender neutral uniform policies, in order not to discriminate against LGBT pupils.

Elly Barnes, who is the chief executive of Educate and Celebrate, urged schools to adopt fairer policies when it comes to uniforms.

She told the Boarding Schools Association: “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.”

Barnes, who is also an LGBT advisor with Birmingham City Council, had been asked by the association to speak about how schools could become more LGBT friendly, reports the Independent.

As well as more inclusive uniform policies, Barnes also said teachers and staff should be trained to recognise the language of the LGBT community, in an effort to tackle homophobia

“Having the training is an essential part of their continuous professional development” she said. “They need the confidence to embrace the new language, I don’t think they’ll have used the words ‘lesbian’ or ‘gay’ in a classroom. It is putting those words in an easy context.

“It may just be a case of a pupil saying ‘miss, what’s a lesbian?’ and you can say ‘a lesbian is a woman who has relationships with other women’.”

Saying “LGBT bullying is as important as sexist and racist bullying”, she continued: “If a pupil says ‘my pen’s run out, it’s so gay’, you should challenge it. ‘My pen’s so Jewish, my pen’s so black’, you wouldn’t be allowed to say it.”