November 29, 2013
Short-changed: From left, Bella Morris, 6, and mum Zoe, Elliott Miller, 6 and mum Renee.
A NSW primary school has banned girls from wearing shorts and made the wearing of dresses mandatory against the wishes of a number of students and their parents.
Bathurst Public School recently edited its uniform policy, deleting the summer shorts option for girls and leaving only the tunic.
I thought ‘we moved to Australia and it’s the 1950s still’
Parents say they only found out about the change when their girls came home bearing the news.
Zoe Rodwell assumed her daughter Bella, who is in kindergarten, had misinterpreted the message. ”It seemed absurd. I really didn’t give it much thought,” she said.
The original copy of the 2013 Parent Information Booklet clearly lists ”navy tailored shorts or navy shorts with school emblem and white polo shirt” as a summer uniform option for girls.
But an edited version shows that option has now been removed, leaving only the ”summer tunic – blue, white and grey checks with navy tie”. Girls are now only allowed to wear shorts during sport.
”Bella doesn’t really identify with gender stereotypes and that’s been a really conscious thing from me and my husband,” Ms Rodwell said. ”She owns dresses and likes to wear them out to dinner or when she goes to the theatre.
”But when she runs around in the playground she doesn’t want to wear a dress and I think that’s really reasonable because when I go running around or go off to yoga I don’t wear a dress either.”
The school’s principal, Kate White did not respond to Fairfax Media’s request for comment. But she told the Western Advocate some girls had become competitive over brand-name shorts and others were wearing shorts inappropriately.
She said that if parents wanted their daughters to wear shorts they just had to let the school know.
Dr Prudence Black, from the department of gender and cultural studies at the University of Sydney, says the debate is an example of how gendering through dress comes in at a very early age. ”Young kids should be able to feel comfortable when they leap and hop and tumble and turn and shorts would seem to be a pretty good garment to do that in,” she said.
Renee Miller, who enrolled her 6-year-old daughter Elliott at the school recently after moving from the US, says she was ”so shocked” when she heard about the change.
”I thought ‘we moved to Australia and it’s the 1950s still’.”
A uniform committee was formed last week and will hold its first meeting on December 11.
The Sydney Morning Herald