Uniforms and dress standards

Clothing is an important part of the way that many trans and gender diverse young people express their gender identity. Implementing uniform policies, practices and procedures that recognise the needs of trans and gender diverse young people is essential for promoting positive student wellbeing. An inclusive and flexible uniform policy is not only beneficial for trans and gender diverse students but may increase the safety and comfort of all students.

Options provided to all students should include pants and shorts that can be worn by any student regardless of sex or gender identity.

Dress codes should allow for accommodation of individual needs and circumstances, including the needs of trans and gender diverse young people. There may be practical issues to overcome for example fit and sizing, so a common sense approach may be required when considering individual requests for modifications - for example, if the girls’ blouse does not fit and the student requests to wear the sports polo instead.

A dress code that requires a trans or gender diverse student to wear the specified uniform of a gender with which they do not identify may breach anti-discrimination legislation and contribute to the student's social exclusion and isolation.

It is reasonable to ask a trans or gender diverse student to comply with uniform rules, particularly where they protect health and safety, such as wearing a hat. The school may set rules that apply to everyone such as no nail polish or make up. This will not be discrimination so long as the rules are equally applied to all students regardless of their sex or gender identity.

When attending a school formal or other official events out of uniform a student should be able to wear what they feel safe and comfortable in. For example, a trans female should be allowed to wear a dress, if that is what she prefers. It is reasonable for you to ask the student to wear something formal and appropriate for such an event, so long as there are not different expectations of trans and gender diverse students compared with cisgender students.

Eden is enrolled in a private co-ed school in Year 7. At 14 Eden begins affirming their gender identity as a non-binary person. Eden starts using them/their pronouns at school. The school uniform policy sets out two options - the boys’ uniform and the girls’ uniform. This does not make Eden feel very included. Eden decides that they will wear the boys’ pants and the girls’ blouse as this will make them feel most comfortable and will fit their body well. This decision is supported by the school. After the experience with Eden, the school decides to change their policy to express that students can dress in a manner consistent with their gender identity and expression, so long as it is within the existing uniform options and provided that a neat and tidy appearance is maintained by all students.

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