School makes uniforms gender-neutral to fight ‘heteronormative’ attitudes

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A school in Sydney has introduced gender-neutral uniforms to tackle what its principal sees as “heteronormative” standards in society.

The International Grammar School (IGS), an independent establishment which costs up to $23,850 per year (£15,000), has long been LGBT-friendly, with its motto “Unity through diversity.”

This move came after some of the secular institution’s 1,200 students started dressing in the assigned clothing of the opposite gender, Gay Star News has reported.

Student representatives then approached Principal Shauna Colnan to tell her their position, which she said was one she got fully behind, immediately.

“The head boy and girl were very on this whole thing last year, and they wanted to talk to me about all sorts aspect of the LGBTIQ+ experience at IGS,” the principal said.

“We had a student who identified as agender, and teachers were worried about them asking not to wear a tie and if they would get into trouble for not wearing one.

“I said: ‘Let’s make them safe as they could possibly be.’”

At that point, Colnan said it was clear the inner-city school needed to change to match its students’ progressive approach.

“For those students who do identify as far more genderfluid, the uniform has been a refreshing way for them to identify that,” Colnan said.

“It was really a no-brainer for us; we can’t continue to have this heteronormative standard in our uniform.”

School makes uniforms gender-neutral to fight ‘heteronormative’ attitudes

IGS educates children throughout their entire school careers, and with many of the students staying at the institution for all 13 years, its influence on them is significant.

Colnan said changing the uniform made perfect sense in keeping consistent with the school’s values, adding that it was “not a hard step to take”.

“It’s not fighting IGS’s culture, which is an inclusive, celebratory culture,” she added.

“I spoke to our founding Principal, Reg Et Leon…about uniform and hair policy.

“When he first started, he had a kid with blue hair come up to him and he said: ‘I don’t care what colour your hair is, I care what’s underneath.’”

She said this showed the school in its true light.

“We are letting kids be who they are.

“We agreed it would be best to equip students for the world…to empower students and let them be who they are without restrictions.”