In 2015 Avila College in Mt Waverley marked 50 years of educating girls with a Golden Jubilee celebration. In 1966 the girls wore a plain grey blazer and skirt with a light blue shirt. Today they wear a navy blue blazer and navy tartan skirt with a red jumper and white shirt.
The only male student at a Catholic girls’ school.
27 May 2016
Jeremy was the only male student at his Catholic girls’ school.
He had short spiky hair, hated wearing the school’s checked skirt and in Year 12, the Avila College student came out as a transgender male.
“It was inherently a very gendered environment. It made it more difficult.”
It’s a situation many single-sex schools – whose entire existence has relied on rigid concepts of gender – are grappling with.
For the first time, the region’s peak body for girls schools, the Alliance of Girls Schools Australasia, is urging its members to support transgender students.
This includes males who transition to females and want to enrol in girls’ schools, and females who transition to males and want to remain in girls’ schools.
Earlier this week, the organisation, which predominantly represents private girls’ schools, held a conference which focused on gender and transgender issues.
“It’s an emerging issue, everyone is still learning what to do and that includes the doctors, the psychologists, the support services,” the Alliance’s president and Mentone Girls’ Grammar principal Fran Reddan said.
“It’s critical that we provide a safe environment where all students can express their gender identity.”
Micah Scott, the chief executive of LGBTI youth group Minus 18, said single-sex schools faced a unique challenge.
“Their existence is based on the concept that the sex you are assigned at birth will match your gender identity,” he said.
He said teachers needed to avoid gendered language like “good morning girls” and should provide more flexible uniform options.
Jeremy agreed, and said he felt very uncomfortable wearing his school uniform.
“A teacher told me that I could wear the trousers but said everyone would look at me funnily,” he said. He claimed another teacher picked on him.
Human Rights Law Centre director of advocacy Anna Brown said there did not seem to be a clear protection for transgender students in single-sex schools under federal discrimination law. But she said it was a grey area and yet to be tested in court.
She said schools should let transgender students wear uniforms and use toilets that reflected their gender identity. They should also ensure that sports divided along gender lines are inclusive, and that students are referred to using the name and pronoun of their choice.
Northcote High School has a gender neutral uniform policy. Boys and girls permitted to wear their choice of shorts, pants or dress in summer; and shorts, pants or skirt in winter; along with laceup, t-bar or mary jane school shoes.
SUMMER & WINTER
o Grey slacks or shorts
o Mauve, crested long or short sleeved shirt
o Crested navy jumper
o Black leather shoes
o Black Business socks
o School tie (optional)
o Striped dress
o Check grey skirt with crested white shirt
o Black tights or socks
Summer uniform options.
Winter uniform options.
School shoe options.
In 2014 Kilbreda College unveiled an updated school uniform featuring the new colours of charcoal grey and deep maroon. Girls changed to the new uniform during a two year transition period. As part of this change, the school also switched from brown school shoes to black.
The winter uniform features a charcoal grey blazer and jumper with maroon trim, matched with a grey and maroon pinstripe skirt, candy striped shirt, and a crossover tie. The new summer dress has white, grey and maroon stripes.
During the transition phase to the new uniform, students are to wear either a complete set of old or new uniform. There is to be no mixing and matching.
There is one exception with respect to footwear. New socks (white) and new shoes (black leather lace up) may be worn with either the old or new summer uniform. New socks (black) or new tights (black) and new shoes (black leather lace ups) may be worn with either the old or new winter uniform.
Thank-you to all families and students who consistently meet the College’s expectations with respect to the correct wearing of the summer and winter uniforms. The transition period between old and new uniform has presented its challenges and as always we are grateful for the support that we receive from our families.
School holidays provide time to take stock and tend to the tasks that busy terms sideline. Therefore we encourage all students to review their winter and summer uniforms, ensuring that skirt and dress lengths are no shorter than above the knee, blazers are clean and pressed and shoes polished.
A reminder that all students in Years 7 to 10 are required to wear the new uniform from the beginning of 2017.