Carey girls wear the pants

Carey Baptist Grammar School was founded as a school for boys but went co-educational in 1979. But for years the girls were not allowed to wear pants. Their uniform was dresses in summer, and skirts in winter. This changed in 2016, when the school announced that girls would be allowed to wear shorts and pants as part of their uniform.

Carey Baptist Grammar girls in pants and shorts

Carey students generally like their school uniform. They tell us that the colours are nice and that they are proud to represent their School in the Carey blue, black and yellow. Late in 2015, a group of interested students began meeting to plan this year’s International Women’s Day Breakfast. Students and staff from Middle and Senior School who were interested in gender issues and gender equity were invited to discuss their opinions and experiences inside and outside the Carey gates. A range of students from across the School gathered to share some deep conversations and to learn from each other.

Among the topics discussed was the uniform for girls at Carey. Many students and some staff felt that the requirement for girls to wear dresses in summer, and skirts/tunics in winter, restricted their movement during learning and during playtime. Others felt that in a progressive school, we should be striving to break down some of the stereotypes we see in society, and that a uniform addition would support this. There were strong opinions expressed and some options suggested.

Throughout this year, the Gender Equity Team has continued to meet and explore adding shorts and pants as an option for girls at Carey. Following these ongoing discussions, I am pleased to report that next year girls will be invited to choose either shorts and a blouse in summer, or the current dress option. In winter, girls will be able to choose between the skirt and winter trousers. The new options have been designed to fit girls comfortably, and they use the same fabrics of the current boys’ uniform. So, from 2017, everyone can wear the pants at Carey, if they choose to!

Well done to the Gender Equity Team whose vision and enthusiasm for change has been realised. We hope Carey girls enjoy the freedom and comfort of wearing the pants in 2017.

November 11, 2016

Girls will be able to wear the pants — and the shorts — at an exclusive Melbourne school next year amid rising momentum for gender neutral uniforms.

Carey Baptist Grammar announced at an assembly this week that female students would be able to broaden their wardrobe options from skirts and dresses in a historical move for the school.

Principal Philip Grutzner told the Herald Sun the decision was made after feedback from the school community including its Gender Equity Team.

“We had a fantastic response at the assembly which is no surprise,” he said.

“I think this is in-keeping with the progressive nature of our school.”

There had been no request from boys to wear dresses or skirts, but it would be taken seriously if it arose, he said.

The uniform makeover comes after Melbourne mum Simone Cariss waged a winning online war against her daughter’s Catholic school which would not let girls wear trousers.

The school, which Mrs Cariss didn’t name, relented and changed their policy after a petition attracted thousands of signatures.

Carey Grammar announced its change in a letter to parents yesterday after the option was explored by the school’s Gender Equity Team.

Deputy Principal Leanne Guillon said in a school newsletter that many students and staff “felt that the requirement for girls to wear dresses in summer, and skirts/tunics in winter, restricted their movement during learning and during playtime”.

“Others felt that in a progressive school, we should be striving to break down some of the stereotypes we see in society, and that a uniform addition would support this,” Ms Guillon wrote.

The school said they hope to have the new uniform options available for first term next year.

Independent Schools Victoria chief executive Michelle Green said all schools were different and adopted their own uniform policies, with some opting for casual dress.

“Given that diversity, it’s not surprising that they have a range of policies on school uniforms that reflect their ethos, traditions, the expectations of their school communities and parental preferences,” she said.

In the state system, school councils set their own policies in consultation with their community.

November 11, 2016

Carey Grammar school uniform debate: Let girls wear the pants in the playground

Who wears the pants in your playground?

At my daughter’s school it’s the boys and the girls. The very progressive sounding Gender Equity Team at Carey Baptist Grammar lobbied to overhaul the school uniform.

Skirts/dresses were deemed somewhat retrograde and “restricted girls’ movement during learning and playtime”. As a result, girls are now allowed to wear shorts in summer and long pants in winter. Just like the boys.

The move has polarised parents.

“What’s next?!” one mother exclaimed at the school gates. “Unisex toilets? Boys in dresses?!”

Don’t baulk. Newtown High School of the Performing Arts in Sydney has implemented a unisex uniform policy that allows all students, regardless of gender, to decide whether they want to wear the boys’ or the girls’ uniform.

Indeed across the UK, 80 state schools have introduced gender-neutral policies meaning children are expected to wear a uniform, but they can wear whatever part of it they want.

While that may be seen as taking gender fluidity to extremes, I have no problem with allowing girls to wear the pants — for three reasons.

First of all, as the name suggests, uniforms should create uniformity.

Earlier this year I wrote in praise of school uniforms because they eradicate any division between the “haves” and the “have-nots”.

Admittedly I was referring to financial equality but this could extend to gender balance. Wearing pants could unify students instead of dividing them along gender lines; by dressing everyone the same, the focus is shifted away from appearance and back to schooling.

Second, women have been comfortably wearing trousers for a hundred years. It’s not 1919 when anarchist Luisa Capetillo pulled on a pair of strides in Puerto Rico and was jailed for what was then considered a “crime”.

In the 1930s Katharine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich rocked pants. In World War II women working in war service wore trousers. So in 2016 why make a fuss about a sartorial staple already in women’s wardrobes?

The final reason I won’t short-sell shorts is far more prosaic and personal. Recently my six-year-old daughter was naively swinging on the monkey bars at school — blissfully unaware her elastic-challenged pink Bonds undies were showing a little too much, ahem, bottom cleavage. Until some boys starting laughing at her.

An imperceptible bit of her childhood innocence chipped off in that common yet cruel moment. She told me she refused to hang upside down and do flips anymore lest she and her undies again become the subject of boys’ mirth.

So it looks like I’ll be decking out my daughter in dacks. No need to get your knickers in a knot over it. Even if they are the pink Bonds variety.

Carey Baptist Grammar girls in pants and shorts

Carey Baptist Grammar girls in pants and shorts

Carey Baptist Grammar girls in pants and shorts


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