A famous old private school in north London appears to be dragging itself somewhat into the 21st Century by bringing in a series of gender-neutral clothing policies which would allow boys to wear traditionally feminine items such as skirts or earrings.
Much to the chagrin of several angry alumni who have apparently written in to criticise the policies, the Highgate School has wisely decided to cater for what it says has been a surge in the number of its pupils identifying as transgender. Female pupils, who were only admitted for the first time at the £20,000-per-year school in 2004, have already generously been allowed to decide between wearing grey trousers or grey pleated skirts – but boys have now been given that option too.
"This generation is really questioning being binary in the way we look at things," Adam Pettitt, the school’s headmaster, told The Sunday Times. And it’s the pupils who are the driving force; groups are also pushing for gender-neutral toilets and pronouns, and a ban on words such as “ladylike” and “man up”.
Alumni have apparently written in to say “if you left children to their own devices they would grow up differently and you are promoting the wrong ideas”. But Pettitt, who has a fairly remarkable attitude for the hyper-conservative world of private schools, insisted that “if they feel happier and more secure in who they are, it must be a good thing”.
“This is happening predominantly in the sixth form but my guess is that that will change over time and I think primary schools will find parents coming and saying ‘My son does not want to be called Johnny any more’,” he added. “We will need to become understanding of what is a sensible reaction to this at different ages.”
(Image: Rich Pedroncelli/AP/REX/Shutterstock)