A private secondary school in Oxfordshire, England is banning its male students from wearing shorts during the summer months, and is instead requesting that they wear a more "gender neutral" ensemble that includes that staple of men's athletic wear: The skirt.
According to the Daily Mail, Chiltern Edge Secondary School's rule change comes after an unfavorable ruling by a government agency tasked with overseeing educational standards.
School leaders said the skirts were a "more formal" alternative to shorts, regardless of how uncomfortable they might make male students at the school.
Unsurprisingly, parents are complaining about the bizarre school dress code, which is part of a larger trend of schools adopting "gender neutral" uniforms to make transgender students feel more at home.
Of course, parents of straight students can rest assured that their children will also feel comfortable: Because if they don't want to wear the "gender neutral" skirt ensembles, they can simply wear blazers and trousers in the sweltering heat.
Following the change, parent Alastair Vince-Porteous asked staff if his son could wear tailored shorts – but the school said that they were not part of the uniform. The bemused father was then told that the uniform policy was ‘gender-neutral’ and boys could of course wear a skirt if they wished.
The move follows a trend for schools adopting gender-neutral policies to help transgender pupils feel more welcome. Many schools now say skirts and trousers can be worn by either gender. Under the Equality Act, schools have a duty to protect transgender students from discrimination.
This case came to light at the weekend, as temperatures are set to soar to 26C (79F) next week. Mr Vince-Porteous said: 'I was told shorts are not part of the uniform. It’s a shame we can’t be more grown up about it, we aren’t asking for ra-ra skirts or skinny jeans, just grey tailored shorts for two months a year, it’s not a big deal.
'I know that in the past other schools have worn skirts so I asked if my son was able to do that – and the school said yes.' Fellow parent Joanne Muday said: ‘It’s nuts to make the kids wear blazers and ties when it gets very hot.’
The school introduced the new uniform policy after Ofsted, a government organization charged with maintaining educational standards, determined that Chiltern's uniform policy was "inadequate".
The introduction of the new uniform policy came after the school was branded inadequate by Ofsted. In August the school – which has the capacity for 900 pupils, but as of January last year had only 507 – will join the Maiden Erlegh Trust and become an academy. Students hail from nearby areas such as Caversham, Reading and Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency.
Headteacher Moira Green said: ‘In September 2017, with the support of parents, Chiltern Edge made the decision to move to a more formal uniform. This has been a success. Maiden Erlegh Trust, in preparation for September 2018, wholeheartedly support Chiltern Edge’s adoption of a more formal uniform.'
Of course, we'd like to applaud Ofsted for its commitment to rigorous educational standards for athletes. Because Chiltern's students are learning one of the most valuable lessons of all: That it's okay for boys to wear skirts.