Belfast Telegraph

Belfast school considers uniform change to help transgender pupils feel comfortable

Methodist College in Belfast is to review its uniform policy.
Methodist College in Belfast is to review its uniform policy.

A Northern Ireland school is to review its uniform policy to ensure transgender pupils and those from religious groups feel comfortable.

Belfast's Methodist College is holding a consultation with parents, pupils and staff to get their view on any changes.

The review came to light through an email shared with parents of pupils at the school.

"Whilst we would stress that a review does not mean that we believe significant changes are necessary, it does seem appropriate to ask questions of what we wear and why we wear it," the email read.

"If changes are made as part of this review parents, pupils and staff will be informed in due course."

The email said the policy was intended to "be flexible enough to ensure that recognised minorities are able to feel comfortable eg religious groups, ethnic minorities, pupils with gender dysphoria.

"Individualism is not the same as being part of a recognised minority and so once a uniform policy has been set, all are expected to adhere to the requirements," it read.

Principal Scott Naismith told the BBC that the review was part of a regular review process.

It has been five years since the school last reviewed its uniform policy.

"During that time, obviously, the school community has changed. We are a very diverse and inclusive school and that is something we pride ourselves on and we are having to accommodate the needs of a wide range of pupils given their backgrounds," Mr Naismith said.

"We want to make sure that as our practices evolve, so our policies reflect the practices that have come into place."

Gender neutral uniforms are one of the options being explored by the school.

"We have some pupils who we accommodate by allowing them to wear ankle length skirts or pupils who are allowed to wear headscarves or pupils who are allowed to wear the uniform of the gender that they identify with rather than their biological sex," Mr Naismith said.

"We will be looking at the history and traditions of the college, affordability of the uniforms as well as practicality of the uniform."

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