Students at a leading Sydney high school have won a claim to change their dress policy, allowing them to wear the uniform of either sex. The move has received widespread support, but has been criticised by Christian groups.
Pupils at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts in Sydney, Australia, successfully lobbied the school to scrap gender restrictions on uniform after students began challenging the school's administration last week.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Wendy Francis, a spokeswoman for The Australian Christian Lobby, said: "To encourage a guy to wear a dress would just be setting him up for bullying." She also described the move as "retrograde" and "laughable", adding: "I don't get it. It is a retrograde idea in my mind, there is no need to say we are going to allow boys to wear a kilt or girls to wear trousers, I find it almost laughable."
However, Jo Dwyer, a year 11 student at the school, said that changes were needed to make the uniform inclusive: "Before the changes were implemented, students had to go through the school with parental permission and notes from psychologists before they were allowed to wear the cross-gender uniform, and that wasn't really a possibility for some students whose parents aren't supportive of their gender identity."
The Foundation for Young Australians, which runs the Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA), a group aiming to create "safe and inclusive school environments for same sex attracted, intersex and gender-diverse students, staff and families", called the students "absolute heroes". SSCA is encouraging other schools to follow suit and adopt similar uniform policies.