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One of Britain’s top private schools is bringing in ‘gender-neutral’ uniforms that would allow boys to wear skirts, as teachers report growing numbers of children ‘questioning their gender identity’.
The move by Highgate School in north London comes as activist pupils at schools across the country are demanding ‘gender-neutral’ bathroom facilities, a ban on terms they deem ‘sexist’, and for teachers to use gender-neutral pronouns such as “they”.
“This generation is really questioning being binary in the way we look at things,” headteacher Adam Pettitt told The Sunday Times.
Separate uniforms for boys and girls will be scrapped under the plans, and pupils at the £6,790 per term secondary school are being consulted on a mix-and-match dress code.
Items included in the new dress code won’t be linked to sex, noted Pettitt, who told the newspaper: “We are asking [pupils], should it be called uniform number one and uniform number two?”
Highgate’s current uniform policy allows female pupils to wear trousers, dark blue jackets, and ties but boys can’t choose to wear the grey pleated skirts that make up part of the girls’ uniform.
Pettitt said some former pupils at the school, whose alumni include the cricketer Phil Tufnell and the poet T.S. Eliot, have opposed the changes.
“They write in and say if you left children to their own devices they would grow up differently and you are promoting the wrong ideas.”
But the headmaster added that if boys choose to wear skirts, then “if [as a result] they feel happier and more secure in who they are, it must be a good thing.”
Highgate is set to hold a conference for dozens of schools titled The Developing Teenager next month, at which one of the topics to be discussed is how teachers should handle growing pressure from pupils to scrap the “old fashioned” idea that there are two sexes.
The Sunday Times reported figures show a surge in the number of children wanting to change gender, with more than 2,000 minors referred to north London’s Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust last year, compared to just 100 when it opened eight years ago.
But critics warn the rush by schools to implement gender-neutral policies being demanded by activists risked encouraging “copycat” behaviour amongst children, fuelled by social media and the internet.
As it was reported in 2015 that 80 primary school-aged children a year were being branded transgendered, experts revealed they were emerging in “clusters” – in schools where the fad had taken off.
A study by Mark Zucker at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, found that transgenderism was more prominent and persistent amongst children when promoted by adults.
Researchers observed that children who saw therapists and others in authority who assume they belong to the opposite sex can actually become more distressed, exacerbating their “gender dysphoric identity”.