15 year old Lib Dem Jess Insall’s campaign gets support from Scottish Government

Last month, 15 year old Scottish Young Liberal Jess Insall successfully proposed a motion at Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference which called for gender neutral school uniforms, a simple concept that would make a huge difference to the culture in our schools. Jo Swinson backed the motion and told Conference that if uniform stopped girls doing cartwheels, then it was the wrong uniform.

Today the Scottish Government has expressed support for this move, as reported in iNews.

Schools across the country should consider making uniforms gender-neutral rather than forcing girls to wear skirts and boys to wear trousers, the Scottish Government has said.

Responding to a campaign led by a 15-year-old schoolgirl, a spokesman said ministers agreed that boys and girls “should be treated equally” when it came to the uniforms they wore. “It’s not about dictating the way anyone dresses”

The development comes after teenager Jess Insall successfully passed a motion in favour of the move at the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference earlier this year.

Jess is quoted in the article:

“It isn’t saying that everyone has to wear the same uniform – it’s saying that whatever the uniform is, there can’t be any difference between genders,” she told i. “Instead of saying boys have to wear trousers and girls have to wear skirts, schools can say pupils can choose between skirts or trousers. “It’s not about dictating the way anyone dresses. ‘Gender-neutral’ can be quite an alienating term, but all it really means is not treating people differently because of their gender.”

She also talked about the practical disadvantages of strict gender rules:

…we’ve had really cold weather lately and for girls wearing skirts can be incredibly uncomfortable. I’ve been wearing two pairs of tights every day,” she said. “It also encourages physical activity if girls have more practical options. That’s already a problem – we see lower levels of physical activity in girls than in boys.” She added that it would promote gender equality from an early age and would make it easier for transgender and non-binary pupils to embrace their identities and “take things at their own pace”.

Well done to Jess for taking this on and pursuing it to the highest levels.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Richard Underhill 29th Dec '17 - 1:31pm

    Nothing new there. A colleague at work used to boast about wearing his wife’s old tights under his trousers in the winter. They were the same height. He did not get any adverse comments.

  • William Fowler 29th Dec '17 - 2:25pm

    Would have made more sense if everyone wore trousers, lot safer for the girls, too.

  • Frances Alexander 29th Dec '17 - 2:57pm

    Congratulations, Jess! You obviously made an impression. Keep up the good work, and speak out on issues that seem important to you: you will be articulating what other less confident people are thinking.

  • paul barker 29th Dec '17 - 3:01pm

    Sorry to go off-topic, but shouldnt Liberals be opposed to School Uniforms altogether ?
    Our Constitution commits us to oppose Uniformity & Compulsion & surely School Uniforms tick both boxes unless there is some compelling reason for them. The logic of Uniforms in Hospitals & Prisons is obvious enough, we need to be able to immeidiately differentiate between Staff & “Customers”. In Schools however its much easier, the Children are Students & The Adults are Staff, or sometimes Parents. Why do we need to force Children to wear Uniforms anyway ?

  • Congratulations. A sound and well made policy proposal that will cost nothing to implement, and I expect to be supported across the main parties.

    Paul, I cannot agree with ‘opposing’ school uniforms. I think it’s one thing to allow a bit of person choice in how that uniform is worn, and I welcome moves by many schools in recent years to make them more practical, but scrapping them removes the protection they bring to pupils from less well off families, and risks turning school into a fashion parade, overly influenced by the glossy magazines of the day.

    Do we really want our children to be judged on how they dress? Surely the best individuality comes from having individual thoughts and ideas?

    If my experiences of dress down days were any kind of clue to what life would be like with no school uniform, then children would not be judged on their individuality, but instead be judged on whether or not they knew the right label to wear, and had parents willing and able to afford to let their children wear over-priced tat to school.

    I hated dress down days for that very reason and I recall some kids didn’t come in for fear of the bullying that would come with getting it wrong. A sensible uniform policy will allow a bit of individuality, but discourage excessive attention on one-upmanship.

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