The Victorian government is set to enable girls attending state schools with the right to choose the uniform they wear.
An analysis of uniform policy across 100 Victorian state schools has found that one in four still require girls to wear a skirt or dress.
Following complaints from parents regarding the impracticality of dresses and skirts, Victorian Education Minister James Merlino is committed to ensuring girls have the option of wearing shorts and trousers, The Age reported.
“While the vast majority of schools already offer the option of female students wearing shorts or pants, it is something I would expect all government schools to do,” Mr Merlino said.
The Education Minister has suggested that enforcing a state-wide rule would give girls freedom of choice, reported The Herald Sun.
“All schools must adhere to human rights and anti-discrimination requirements,” he said.
In an interview with 3AW’s Ross and John this morning, Mr Merlino said that research shows that girls who wear school dresses are less likely to partake in exercise during school hours.
“It makes common sense,
“It’s about making sure every student is comfortable and physically active.” he said.
The issue is spreading across non-state schools also, with some Catholic schools changing their uniform policy for girls.
The Girls’ Uniform Agenda, a group trying to push for the freedom to choose, was founded by Simone Cariss after her daughter was banned from wearing pants at a Catholic school in Melbourne.
Cariss told The Age that she believes not allowing girls the option to wear pants and trousers reinforces gender stereotypes.
“Schools need to come into the modern era and look at what they are forcing their girls to wear,
“We want girls to go into science, technology, engineering and maths careers – which involve breaking down those stereotypes – yet we force them to wear a dress every day.” she said.
A petition started by Cariss, which has since obtained over 21,000 signatures, caused her daughter’s school to revoke its policy to not allow their female students the freedom of choice.