Victorian school girls win right to wear shorts or trousers to class

Published: 13 September 2017

uniforms

Victorian state schools will now give female students the option to replace their dresses or skirts with shorts or pants, thanks to changes set to roll in by the State Government.

Currently girls’ uniforms are set by the specific school they attend, with approximately only one in four schools allowing girls to choose.

Education Minister James Merlino said he wants to introduce the changes by the start of next year to every public school.

Minister Merlino added the changes will allow all public school students to feel comfortable and physically active.

"I am currently considering ways to ensure girls are provided the opportunity at all government schools to wear shorts and pants," Mr Merlino told The Age.

“While the vast majority of schools already offer the option of female students wearing shorts or pants, it is something I would expect all government schools to do,” he said.

Parents and students have long complained about skirts or dresses’ impracticality and restrictiveness.

Research has also shown girls who wear skirts or dresses to school are less active than those who are given the option.

The momentum for change has been growing across the country, after the Western Australian Government amended its Dress Codes for Students policy, ensuring girls at public schools had a choice of attire.

A group of Australian parents called Girls’ Uniform Agenda have been pushing for uniform equality, and say dresses and skirts reinforce rigid stereotypes, The Age reports.

Group co-founder Simone Cariss’ daughter was barred from wearing shorts at her catholic school and says girls are worried they are going to accidentally expose themselves.

"They are concerned about flashing their underwear when they do cartwheels," Ms Cariss told The Age.

"We have girls who have to get under tables to plug in laptops and they are doing that with one hand on the back of their skirt. It's a struggle that distracts from their learning,” she said.

Parents also want the changes to allow for girls to wear trousers, giving students an appropriate option for colder months.