Independent schools to follow suit in uniform overhaul
A MOVE to review Queensland's outdated school uniform policy to give all female state school students the choice of wearing pants instead of skirts has Warwick parents hoping independent schools will follow suit.
As the mother of three active school-aged girls, Rachel Leslie is right behind Education Minister Grace Grace's call for more practical dress codes for female students.
"I definitely feel this is a pertinent conversation to be having and I would say the vast majority of parents of girls feel quite strongly on the issue,” Mrs Leslie said.
"My girls often feel like they can't play because of dresses and even sitting cross-legged on the floor can be difficult.
"They just want to be able to run around like the boys.”
Warwick occupational therapist Lisa Notley said giving girls the option to wear pants could increase participation in sport and physical activity.
"As the girls get older we have this huge dropout rate of girls participating in activity,” she said.
"Some of the long skirts we see in schools are just not conducive to that sort of activity.
"When I look around at the adults in our community we would never participate in sporting activities in a dress and most of us even go about our daily lives in pants and a shirt.”
Warwick's icy winters and gusty winds also make skirts uncomfortable for female students.
"I don't think you will find many grown women who wear skirts and stockings these days, for one they are so difficult to wear and they don't actually protect you from the cold,” Mrs Leslie said.
There is no provision under the current policy that state schools must give female students the option of wearing pants, but Ms Grace has called for that to change.
"In today's day and age, there should be no reason why shorts and pants aren't made part of the school formal uniform,” Ms Grace told ABC radio on Monday.
But Mrs Leslie hopes the changes will set a precedent that private and independent schools will follow.
"Independent schools are bound by the Anti-discrimination Act and I think it is rather archaic that school uniforms policies haven't fallen in line with decades-old legislation,” she said.
A step ahead, the School of Total Education is about to review its own uniform policy.
Principal Shane Power said it was important for female students to have equal opportunities.
"You want to make every child feel they can participate in every opportunity in the school and not have them feel in any way inhibited from that involvement,” he said.
But Mr Power said the process of brining in new uniforms could be difficult.
"Particularly for small, independent schools you need to make a commitment to a supplier and it can be a costly process so you can't do things on a whim,” he said.
Mrs Leslie said the conversation was a good start, but it could go further than offering girls the opportunity to wear trousers.
"My thoughts are about creating gender-neutral options for students,” she said.
"What is wrong with a boy wearing a skirt if he wants to?”