Taiwan school introduces gender-neutral uniforms

A row of school children in shorts and skirts

Students at a school near Tapei will be allowed to choose between skirts or trousers, regardless of their gender.

Banqiao Senior High School announced its new gender-neutral uniform policy after students and teachers wore skirts as part of a week-long campaign to break down stereotypes.

Until now, boys have been required to wear trousers and girls to wear skirts.

But when the new school year begins on August 30, all mentions of gender will have been removed from the rulebook.

A school spokesperson told the Thomas Reuters Foundation on Wednesday (July 24) that the move is designed “to boost the students’ autonomy in choosing their uniforms while respecting their rights.”

Gender-neutral school uniforms welcomed

According to the foundation, Taiwanese education officials have made statements to local media welcoming the change.

LGBT+ rights groups have also applauded the decision, which has huge implications for young trans and gender non-confirming people.

“This is a progressive step that embraces diversity,” said Du Sih-cheng, policy advocacy director at the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association.

“It will especially gives transgender teenagers the freedom to choose what they want to wear in schools,” Sit-cheng added, urging other schools to follow suit.

Taiwan leads on LGBT+ rights in Asia

If Taiwan were to adopt a similar policy on a national level, it would further bolster the country’s reputation as an LGBT+ rights trailblazer in Asia.

This is a progressive step that embraces diversity.

On May 17, the island nation became the first in Asia to legalise equal marriage. 

It also has plans to introduce a non-binary option for official documents, with the first third-gender ID cards reportedly set to arrive in 2020.

Gender-neutral school uniforms introduced in Wales and Mexico

A global effort to drop gendered uniforms has made advances in recent months.

On July 10, the Welsh government issued guidance making gender-neutral uniform mandatory across the country.

It demands that “a gender neutral school uniform policy may list items of clothing which are permitted to be worn in school, without any requirements for items of clothing to only be worn by students of a certain gender.”

Elsewhere, students in Mexico City’s state schools will also be allowed to choose their preferred uniform from the coming new school year.