At our 2018 Spring Conference the Welsh Liberal Democrats followed in the footsteps of our Scottish friends and passed policy calling on Welsh Government to overhaul its guidance on school uniforms to make then more inclusive for trans and non-binary young people.
I am proud to be in a party where members’ shape our policy – and can directly make a real difference in peoples’ lives.
And last month, Kirsty Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrat Cabinet Secretary for Education, announced a consultation on overhauling school uniforms.
I am proud to be in a party where members’ shape our policy – and can make a real difference in peoples’ lives.
One of the drivers behind school uniform policies is often the will to prevent bullying by giving everyone the same options or canvass to draw from. We can expect that to help individual pupil morale, attainment, and overall wellbeing; and we have to admit that however much we may all have disliked our school uniforms!
Prescriptive school uniform policies have the potential to have an enormous impact well-being and confidence of students.
But for a young person who may not conform to the gender binary that society forces on us, or those may not want to express themselves in a way that conforms to expectations, prescriptive school uniform policies have the potential to have an enormous impact well-being and confidence.
In fact, we can even go as far as saying that binary uniform policies can actually encourage exclusion and contribute to bullying where pupils are forced to conform with an expression of identity that isn’t their own.
So, this move is about giving pupils the freedom to choose, and about all pupils having the freedom to dress appropriately for their personal identity, regardless of their gender.
In my speech proposing the motion, I argued that adopting a gender-neutral approach to school uniforms not only offers girls a more practical option, so they can engage freely with school activities but gives young people the freedom to express themselves in a way that supports their confidence and wellbeing.
This policy is also an opportunity to make school uniforms more affordable for families.
Anyone who has a young family or has served as a school governor will know that the cost of school uniforms can be prohibitive, particularly where schools prescribe a certain provider. The consultation offers an opportunity to make school uniforms far more affordable for families at a time when average household incomes are still struggling to keep up with the cost of living.
As an ordinary member of our party it makes me incredibly proud that Kirsty Williams is not only delivering radical reforms to our education system in government with Welsh liberalism at its heart, but that ordinary members continue to be the driving force behind our party.