Newtown High School of the Performing Arts changes gender rules for uniforms. https://t.co/mfKv2pEBxD
— The Sydney Morning Herald (@smh) February 22, 2016
An Australian high school has become a target for Christian campaigners after informing students anyone can wear a skirt to school, refer to themselves as male or female, and anyone identifying as a girl can use the female toilets. In recent years, the school has assisted with special requests, but formal permission is now no longer required for students to wear the uniform they choose or use an alternative bathroom. “If children are really struggling with that issue, then they shouldn’t be… forced into pigeonholes by the school,” parent Maya Saric told the ABC. “They’re facing enough turmoil and change and crisis of their own.”
The changes were implemented last week after successful lobbying by students at Newtown Performing Arts High School in Sydney. “Our aim was to remove the un-inclusive gender labels from the school uniform, and make it so that anyone could wear any aspect of the uniform without having to go through a long and difficult process,” year-11 student Jo Dwyer told The Sydney Morning Herald.
The high school prides itself on its progressive values and parents whose children attend the school are reportedly happy with the changes to uniform regulations, but the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has expressed alarm.
ACL managing director Lyle Shelton told ABC radio he was worried about “rainbow politics” entering schools. “This whole questioning of what it means to be male or female and the idea that gender doesn’t matter anymore, I think is radical gender theory, and it’s finding its way into our schools,” Shelton said, also claiming he was concerned that boys wearing skirts would be bullied.
“I think people are wondering if this is where rainbow ideology and rainbow politics is taking us.”
LGBTI advocacy group Safe Schools Coalition Australia is encouraging all NSW schools to consider adopting the policy.