Should girls be allowed to wear trousers in school?

Last Updated on November 19, 2017 by


Most UK schools have introduced trousers for girls into their uniform codes in the last twenty years, but some continue to ban them and will send home any girl who turns up wearing trousers, at least according to Trousers for All, which campaigns to give girls the option to wear trousers as part of their school uniform.

Trousers for all notes that ‘The ban on trousers for girls covers the entire spectrum of schools: primary, secondary, public and private, faith and non-faith”.

While it might seem like a throwback to the 1970s, or even the 1870s, this really does go on today – take this 2016 Mumsnet discussion as an example:

school skirts

Despite the above, there does seem to be widespread support (there certainly is on Mumsnet) for schools adopting uniform policies which either stipulate a ‘skirt ban’, so that that both boys and girls must wear trousers only, or that girls at least have a choice over whether they wear trousers or a skirt.

The following arguments have been put forward for allowing girls the freedom to wear trousers:

Firstly, it seems to be a pretty blatant breach of the government’s own 2010 equality act, and while it hasn’t been tested in court yet, it seems unlikely that if a parent mounted a legal challenge against a school banning their female child from wearing trousers, the school would lose – I mean, it’s been a workplace norm for 40 years now after all!

Secondly, forcing girls to wear dresses restricts their sense of freedom (Guardian Opinion Article (2017), and it does seem somewhat hypocritical that schools are expected to inspire in children a sense that ‘they are free to achieve anything they want’, except for wearing trousers in school for the next few years, if you’re a girl.

Thirdly, according to Becky Francis: “The stipulation that boys wear trousers while girls must wear skirts promotes messages that boys are active, while girls should be less active, decorative, and ‘demure’.”  (Professor Becky Francis, Director of UCL Institute of Education).

Trousers for All takes this a step further, suggesting that… ‘Schools forcing girls to wear skirts is equivalent to states forcing females to wear a veil and to companies forcing females to wear high heels. All of these are expressions of sexism.’

What do you think: is it right for schools to ban girls from wearing trousers?


Deeper Analysis: will a gender neutral clothing policy end the ‘policing of girls’ bodies in schools’? 

Laura Bates (of Everyday Sexism)  makes the argument that whether we have a gender neutral clothing policy in schools or not, girls bodies are still going to be ‘policed’ in school more than boys, citing examples of girls being sent home for wearing skirts deemed to be too short (and distracting to boys and teachers), and even examples of girls who have been sent home for wearing trousers which were too tight.

girls tight trousers
The trousers which were too tight for school

You also might like to contrast the way in which the above cases are treated, compared to the fact that these boys who turned up to school in skirts to protest their school’s ‘no shorts’ policy face no disciplinary action whatsoever. Maybe, just maybe, this reflects the fact that schools on average have a greater range of rules policing female compared to male bodies?????

7 thoughts on “Should girls be allowed to wear trousers in school?”

  1. Lol Emma your the one who sounds like a ho. You like showing off your bare legs in your short skirts. Women can look elegant in pants, & the women who are the most intelligent in those world wear pants. What if you have a daughter one day with ADHD who loves sports & who’s ment to be in the Olympics but your that crazy psycho mom who’ won’t let her daughter wear pants?

  2. Thanks for your comment, although I prefer a non-gendered uniform code myself!

  3. I raised my daughter to wear dresses and skirts everyday so I would only send to a school that requires skirts and tights. Girls just look better when they dress like young ladies, and school should reflect that in its dress code.

  4. Why is this even a question? Boys and Girls should be able to wear what they want you don’t decide what I can and cannot wear.

  5. Yeh some girls have to wear short wraparound kilts with bare legs and have to hope they acclimatise in the first 2 weeks of winter, and at those schools they usually have to do sport in a pair of knicks the kind that Paula Radcliffe made popular. At least my school put our comfort before pervy old men or the boys who liked staring at our legs, we always wore trousers or opaque tights. Shorts for pe, sometimes worn under our skirts so we could sit as we wanted.

  6. I don’t agree with this, and I’m a girl. Having to wear skirts is cool. It’s smarter and more feminine. You get used to sitting and walking in an elegant way and not like a ho. In my school and many others you can’t wear tights only socks, so your legs get acclimatised to the cold. We’re stronger than the boys! I can go bare legged in a short skirt when it’s snowing, they can’t!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: