Modesty is not gender neutral

There is apparently a growing trend in the UK for schools to ban skirts for girls in favour of trousers. At least forty secondaries have now banned girls from wearing them, while others are consulting on doing the same.

This move seems to be mainly about adopting gender-neutral policies to cater for transgender pupils, although in a few cases it might be more about encouraging modesty or avoiding the potential for sexual harassment.

Bizarrely, one school has said that boys who find trousers too hot in the summer months should instead wear a skirt (instead of shorts), as part of a ‘gender-neutral’ uniform policy.

As Christians, we should be having discussions in our families and churches about what we wear and whether it provokes others to lust by parading what we have to offer sexually. Amounts of cleavage and legs revealed are good areas for discussion and debate as we seek to apply texts such as 1 Timothy 2:9 (which refers to women dressing modestly). We will also want to consider what is appropriate for children to wear at different ages. And this is not just an issue for women and children – in our highly sexualised culture what men wear is also an issue.

So there is a useful discussion to be had about what we wear, but schools adopting uniform policies in order to be gender-neutral is a worrying development.

Yes, we want to avoid unnecessary offence to the minority of students who are confused about their gender. But these kind of policies are actually legitimising transgender as a valid life choice for children. We believe this is one of the most harmful things our society is currently doing.

We are not “gender neutral”. God has made us as male and female, and thus different. We want to embrace and celebrate those differences.

There are many items of clothing that are worn by both genders. There is nothing intrinsically feminine about skirts and dresses and in some cultures they are worn by men, including the Scottish kilt. But they are pretty much a universal signal of being female, especially amongst children. So we do not want them to be banned, but rather that they are worn by girls with pride that they are the females God has made them to be.


One Comment

  1. Working for a school which tried very hard to not ban skirts at the start of this school year, instead insisting on a very specific type that could not be worn too high so as not to show too much leg, I would say that many schools doing this do it from a place of ensuring modesty, not primarily to ‘neutralise’ gender. Sadly girls of a certain age are influenced by older females around them and in society who demonstrate their idea that showing off as much body as possible is the done thing. Obviously, at what ever age, this has the potential to be very unhelpful to others and with 11-16 year olds imitating this, sometimes with less modesty than their influences, it is very unhelpful in a school for pupils and teachers alike. And the ‘age’ of child protection adds another dimension with teachers not wanting to challenge girls on uniform for fear of being accused of looking (in order to notice the problem) in the first place. At the start of the year it looked like we, as a school, had sorted the problem but throughout the year the issue has crept back. I’d like to think I work for a school where adherence to rules is consistently ensured and the fact that this attempt failed shows that the issue is widespread across the school, not just a few, and that potentially there’s a lack of parental support on this.
    Although not certain, I think the school plans on readrrssing this next year by giving the option of an ankle length skirt or trousers therefore not doing away with the skirt option altogether but reducing greatly the risk of girls being immodest purposefully or not; however if they want to be, I’m sure they’ll find a way.

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