TEN Eyewitness News: Call to ditch school skirts and dresses

Published in TEN Eyewitness News on June 16, 2017

Onlinehttps://tenplay.com.au/news/national/june-2017/call-to-ditch-school-skirts-and-dresses

SCHOOL

Winter can be a dreaded time for Aussie school girls. The boys get to don their slacks against the cold, while girls are forced to tough it out in skirts and dresses, with nothing but some thin stockings for protection.

But the winds of change are in the cool air.. with a new survey revealing a majority of school parents want a shakeup to uniform protocol.

The findings by key parent group South Australian Association of State School Organisations found that over 90 per cent of school parents surveyed think girls shouldn’t have to adhere to ‘traditional’ style uniforms.

The group’s Director David Knuckney said it wasn’t just parents who were against the uniforms.

“With negative gender stereotypes known to have disastrous impacts on female students, is it time to rethink making them dress like ‘girls’?” he told the Adelaide Advertiser.

“While schools have long held that uniforms improve discipline, experts, parents and students are now calling school uniforms sexist – a discriminatory disadvantage.”

A quarter of principals surveyed even supported chucking out uniforms all together.

But some educators say too much choice can be dangerous for students.

Mitcham Girls High principal Antoinette Jones said that students were generally less well behaved on casual clothes days.

“They are more rowdy, they are louder, they maybe don’t engage in their learning as much, and we don’t know why.”

Ms Jones said that uniforms also act as a ‘leveller’ between different socio-economic backgrounds.

Most schools are moving towards ‘flexible’ options for girls and a chosen dress code rather than a specified school uniform.

These include gender neutral options for both boys and girls rather than strict rules on what either can wear.

Ms Jones said that her school has a “wide range” of options so students could wear “whatever makes them comfortable”.

Reportage Online: Protesters march for marriage equality to Malcolm Turnbull’s office

Published in Reportage Online, sponsored by the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, on April 25, 2016; co-authored by Jemma Pepper

Online: http://www.reportageonline.com/2016/04/protesters-march-for-marriage-equality-to-malcolm-turnbulls-office/

Protesters gather on the steps of the PM’s Office

Supporters of marriage equality crowded the steps of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Sydney office, in protest against the Coalition’s proposed $160 million nationwide plebiscite.

The protest commenced at Darlinghurst at noon on Saturday April 9. Protesters marched from Taylor Square to Mr Turnbull’s Edgecliff office, chanting, “Gay, straight, black or white, marriage is a civil right!”

With around 72 per cent of Australians agreeing that same-sex marriage should be legalised, protesters believe a plebiscite will further delay the process of amending the Marriage Act in Parliament.

Mia Sanders, a member of the Socialist Alliance, said, “I’m concerned that the plebiscite isn’t actually binding: there are ministers who’ve said they’re not actually going to abide by a plebiscite anyway.”

Members of the LGBTIQ community say they are tired of waiting for an end to the ‘political football’ that marriage equality has become; as Mia said, people have “died waiting to marry those they love”.

However, other parties, such as the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), believe that a decision of such profound social and cultural significance should be considered at length prior to reform.

Mark Makowiecki, NSW Director of the ACL, said: “A plebiscite is the most democratic means we have to decide the issue freely and fairly.”

He said that if same-sex marriage is legalised, “basic freedoms and values” will be compromised, such as the biological right of children to know their mother and father; the ability for people to express their views that marriage should be a male and female relationship; the right for parents to have their children educated according to their own beliefs; and the freedom to speak freely and act in accordance with one’s conscience.

Some community members, such as Sally Rugg, GetUp! campaign director, feel personally victimised at the hands of the government. “Malcolm Turnbull has sold us out. For me and the LGBTI community, it’s personal,” she said.

A report released in March this year by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) says individuals within this community are often highly susceptible to institutional and interpersonal discrimination. The report notes that psychiatrists believe that the “delaying tactics” of the proposed plebiscite will only serve to further threaten, isolate and mitigate the already vulnerable LGBTIQ community.

According to statistics released by RANZCP, 20 per cent of transgender and 17.5 per cent of gay, lesbian and bisexual people surveyed have experienced suicidal thoughts.

Jenny Leong, the Greens Member for Newtown who is described as an “ally” of the LGBTIQ community, said at the rally she hoped the prolonging of the same-sex marriage discussion will soon be ended with its legalisation.

“We change the way society works by coming out here on the streets, by saying we do not deserve to be treated with inequality and with discrimination.”