TROUSER BLOG – The first 100 twitter followers

Last week TfA reached 100 Twitter followers – we think that this is a great achievement for a group which has a very specific remit i.e. campaigning for all girls to be allowed to wear trousers as part of their school uniform. We also have over 100 members of our Facebook group. Taking part in these Social Media forums has been a great experience for us, not least because we have discovered groups that previously we had no idea existed, and also we receive information about news and views from different people and organisations all over the world. It has broadened our vision greatly. We have made the acquaintance of @LetToysBeToys, @genderclassroom, @genderneutral, @On_inclusion, @genderfreeworld, @ManVsPink, @wearingtrousers,@letclothesbeclothes, amongst a host of individuals who support TfA’s position and retweet our posts.

All this activity and support from our foray into social media has increased our awareness of the breadth and depth of the concept of ‘gender neutrality’ and the need for organisations to ensure that they aim to achieve this in their working practices. We can see examples of how girls and boys, and men and women, are chastised for wearing particular clothes or having particular hairstyles just because someone in a position of authority doesn’t think that that particular style belongs to that sex; and it goes beyond the wearing of trousers. So Levi Gilham was sent home for having a ‘man bun’ a tidy and smart hairstyle – but apparently only for girls. Would a girl have been sent home from school for having a really short crop cut hairstyle? Probably not – but she might have been sent home for having a blue or even pink short crop, but not a blonde one. It is all very arbitrary, and each time we read about or hear about instances of this kind of discrimination in 2016, our collective TfA heart sinks – but all may not be lost.

This week one of our members drew our attention to a magazine called The Week where there was a paragraph which said that 80 schools (including 40 primaries) have introduced ‘gender neutral’ uniform policies that allow boys to wear skirts and girls to wear trousers. We are not sure yet where this information came from and when you look at the number of schools in the UK (over 24K with over 8 million pupils in England alone), 80 schools is a drop in the ocean. But it is a start and there may be many more such schools.

In addition, those who signed the petition to parliament to make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work will have received an email saying that an investigation will take place and individuals are invited to share their experiences on the website http://www.parliament.uk/high-heels-petition-forum – but if you have views you want to share with the government then do get on with it, because the deadline is Thursday 16th June at 10.00am.

Clearly the focus of TfA is on trousers but the principles here are the same – a group of women are being required to wear items of clothing in which they may not feel comfortable and which has no bearing on their ability to carry out their job. Indeed, it may even result in worse performance because few things are worse than sore feet.

Perhaps this debate will broaden the minds of our parliamentary representatives and make them think more seriously about requiring gender neutral dress codes in all organisations – including schools.

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