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Primary school calls on boys to use ‘gender-neutral language’, while girls are allowed to wear trousers
UK primary school asks boys to wear skirts to ‘promote equality’
A primary school in Suffolk has told its pupils that girls are allowed to wear trousers and boys are allowed to wear skirts.
Pupils at St Paul’s RC primary school, Near Beccles, are reportedly being encouraged to “promote gender-neutral language” in an attempt to “bring about a change in attitudes and avoid prejudice and bullying”.
The news has generated headlines across the UK and sparked anger on social media.
The school’s assistant headteacher, Jean Bullock, told the BBC: “When we started our children this year, they came into a school that in many ways had been successful, both academically and behaviourally.
“However, we are growing as a young school and changing and adapting to the needs of our young people and their families, and we have decided that one way in which we can do that, is to promote gender-neutral language.
“We’ve written to children asking them to use gender-neutral language when talking to one another. We expect both genders to use gender-neutral language to one another. This is not a response to any one incident.
“It’s not about the gender they want to wear, it’s about the way they want to express their personality and point of view, and that can happen in many ways.
“We want the children to be themselves and to be able to express themselves with confidence without having to worry about other people thinking that they are disagreeable or different from the way they are.”
Pupils aged five to seven will be issued with pencil cases with symbols on them, which the BBC said were the gender neutral N and S symbols.
In an email, which has been shared with the website Rosie O’Donovan, Bullock said: “I really want our children to grow up feeling confident about who they are and, like our teachers and other young people, we want them to celebrate their individuality.
“So I think it’s really important that we explore ways of doing that – and this would be one of them.”
However, Girlguiding UK said some parents were worried about the language being used in the emails.
Julie Bentley, general secretary of Girlguiding UK, said: “It is completely unacceptable for girls and boys to call each other ‘bendy girls’ and ‘ugly boys’ in public. There is already no place for this type of language in the organisation.
“We support a movement to make a change for gender-neutral language in schools, but from the Girlguiding UK membership there is a feeling that this isn’t right or helpful.”