School tells parents dress is banned to make uniform ‘gender-neutral’
A primary school told parents their children could no longer wear the summer dress option to ensure their uniform policy was gender-neutral.
Parents of children at Huttoft Primary and Nursery School, in the Lincolnshire village near Sutton on Sea, were “outraged” by the email informing them that the “option to wear a red gingham dress has now been removed from the policy”.
The email, sent on Friday afternoon and seen by the Telegraph, said: “This change has been brought in due to our pupil voice to make our Uniform Policy gender neutral.”
However, the school later said the email was an “error in communication” before pointing to an earlier uniform policy document that said the dress was being removed to “assist parents in keeping costs down”.
A mother, whose three-year-old daughter attends the nursery school, said parents are angry about the email and accused the school of “backtracking” because it received fierce criticism after the email was shared on social media.
“A lot of the parents I have spoken to are quite outraged by it,” she said.
“It’s a load of rubbish. You don’t send out something and then say it was in error because you realise the backlash that you’re receiving from it.”
She added that she “didn't see the problem” with gender-neutral policies before she had children.
“Now I see how dangerous it is,” she told the Telegraph. “Children do not need to be more confused than they already are. They are trying to make it more inclusive to kids who do not understand what it means.
“If it is going on at a little village school like this, then what other schools is this going on in? Crazy world we live in.
An apology for 'any upset'
Following the backlash, Huttoft School released a statement on Saturday in which it apologised “for any upset or confusion” from Friday’s email.
“We made an error in a communication we sent out to parents yesterday, and we’d like to correct it,” the school said on its website.
“The gingham dress has been removed from our school uniform policy.
“The main reason for this change is to reduce costs for parents and carers who buy the gingham dress as an additional school uniform item for the summer term.
“We also listened to our pupils, some of whom questioned the need for a summer dress.
“We should not have included any reference to ‘gender neutral’ in our communication.
Huttoft School’s uniform policy, which was adopted in February and attached to Friday’s email, said: “Please note the most recent change - to assist parents in keeping costs down we have withdrawn the option for summer gingham dresses”.
The document also says: “We have made provision for non–gendered uniform to ensure we are mindful of protected characteristics.”
Last year, Priory School in Lewes, East Sussex, changed its uniform policy so that all new Year 7 students must wear trousers to accommodate the growing number of transgender pupils.
Highgate School, in north London, also faced criticism last year after drawing up plans to introduce gender-neutral uniforms.