This week, I presented my Bill to Parliament to require all school uniforms to be gender neutral.
From the day a child starts primary school, boys are put in shorts and trousers, and girls in skirts and dresses.
Gendered uniform policies send a message that boys, in their more practical clothes, should be running around and playing sport, and girls should not.
This is something that many women recognise from their school days – whether it was doing handstands in the playground or running around playing ‘it’, we were held back and self-conscious because of our clothes for no good reason at all.
In hindsight, it’s outrageous that we put our daughters into somewhat sexualised outfits to attend school every day.
My Bill will change this for the next generation, and make sure that any child can choose to wear trousers, skirts, shorts or dresses.
Here I am backstage… I was SO excited to present my Bill, hopefully we can get support on this common sense policy! pic.twitter.com/bVg33eLgdd
— Layla Moran (@LaylaMoran) March 6, 2019
But this goes further than stopping girls being held back at school.
This will also make school uniform policies more inclusive for trans and non-binary students.
In 2019, we’ve long accepted that gender is not binary. There’s a big and beautiful spectrum, and it’s not society’s place to force people to conform to male or female ‘norms’. And schools should not either.
I am grateful that 50 schools in the UK have already adopted this practice.
And in Wales, my colleague Kirsty Williams, Liberal Democrat Education Minister, has published new guidelines that schools should not dictate what uniform is for ‘girls’ and ‘boys’, and in Scotland, the government have agreed that boys and girls should be treated equally when it comes to the uniform they wear.
It is time for England to follow this lead.
Our schools should be a place where students have the freedom to explore their own individuality. Schools should make sure that students feel safe and feel that they have control over their bodies. It is an important step in understanding that no one should tell you what you can and can’t do with your body.