Girls in Geelong are among those ditching the school dress for pants. From the Geelong Advertiser.
Uniform shouldn’t be Uniform – Geelong Students Embrace Pants for School Girls
Geelong girls who have embraced the opportunity to wear pants at school believe all students should be able to wear a uniform they feel comfortable in.
While Education Minister James Merlino is assessing how to enforce a rule in all government schools that would give girls the chance to wear pants, many girls in Geelong are already embracing the freedom to choose.
Most public secondary schools in Geelong have dress and pant options for female students, however girls at the majority of the city’s independent and Catholic schools must wear skirts or dresses.
Matthew Flinders Girls Secondary College changed its uniform policy in 2014 to include navy blue pants after receiving a number of requests from students and parents.
Olivia L, 13, wore a skirt for the first term of Year 7 at the all-girls school, before deciding she was more comfortable in pants.
“I went to a co-educational primary school and never wore dresses or skirts. I always wore pants or shorts — it’s who I was and how I feel comfortable,” Olivia said.
“I enjoy having the option to wear pants because it helps me to be myself.” While neither Sacred Heart College, Clonard College nor Geelong Grammar School publicly list shorts or pants as options for female students on their uniform lists, Geelong College changed its policy eight years ago.
Principal Dr Peter Miller said Geelong College introduced pants and shorts for girls of all ages into its uniform policy in 2009. The pants are tailored for females and come in all sizes.
“We believe it is important to cater for individual needs of our students, in their uniforms, academic programs and co-curricular opportunities as best we can,” Dr Miller said.
“Self-esteem issues present many challenges for school aged children, and simple changes to a uniform policy can help make some students feel happier and more comfortable at school.” The Catholic Education Melbourne office confirmed it would not force schools to change their uniform requirements, with a spokesman confirming all Catholic schools determined their own uniform policies.
Mr Merlino said he was assessing options to ensure all girls at government schools had freedom of choice.
“While the vast majority of schools already offer the option of female students wearing shorts of pants, it is something I would expect all government schools to do,” Mr Merlino said.
The Government cannot direct non-government schools to alter their dress codes. But Mr Merlino said while those schools made their own decisions, it was always beneficial if schools opted for dress codes that encouraged female students to engage in physical activity.