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should schools adopt gender-neutral uniform policies?

7 May 2015

Attendees at a recent boarding schools’ conference were reportedly advised to consider imposing gender neutral uniform policies in a bid to tackle discrimination against transgender pupils. Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 which operates at the point of proposing to go through, or commencing the gender-reassignment process. Imposing a blanket uniform policy which fails to take account of a pupil’s gender-reassignment could leave a school at risk of legal challenge, in particular for discriminating against them by failing to amend/disapply aspects of their uniform policy.

There is increasing awareness of transgender issues, with documentaries, educational programmes and high profile celebrities coming out as transgender in recent months. Children are now identifying themselves as transgender at very early stages and schools have a vital role in easing the transition and tackling discrimination as part of their duties under the Act. Adopting gender-neutral uniform policies would remove just one of the many hurdles transgender pupils face in their journey to gender identity.

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