When boys started wearing the girl’s uniform and the girls were decked head to toe in the boy’s uniform, this elite Sydney school knew it had to do something.
The inner-city based International Grammar School (IGS) announced its uniforms would now be gender fluid.
‘It’s almost like for those students who do identify as far more gender fluid, the uniform has been a refreshing way for them to identify that,’ IGS Principal Shauna Colnan told Gay Star News.
‘It was really a no brainer for us, we can’t continue to have this heteronormative standard in our uniform.’
Colnan said the school sees the decision as a reflection of a more fluid and changing society.
Established in 1984, IGS covers all years of schooling from pre-school to 12th grade. Most students stay at IGS for their entire schooling lives.
The 1200 students are taught to practice the school’s motto of ‘Unity through Diversity’ and are encouraged to be themselves.
Just like Finland, but Down Under
Self-described as Little Finland for its community style approach to education, IGS faced no opposition about the policy change.
‘[Changing the uniform policy] is not a hard step to take, it’s not fighting IGS’ culture, which is an inclusive, celebratory culture,’ Colnan said.
‘I spoke to our founding Principal, Reg Et Leon… about uniform and hair policy. When he first started he had a kid with blue hair come up to him and he said, ‘I don’t care what colour your hair is, I care what’s underneath’.
‘We are letting kids be who they are. We agreed it would be best to equip students for the world… to empower students and letting them be who they are without restrictions.’
IGS is a school of choice for Sydney’s LGBTI community and even has a coalition of Rainbow Families. So it was no surprise student leaders approached Colnan to discuss addressing LGBTI issues at the school.
‘The head boy and girl were very on this whole thing last year and they wanted to talk to me about all sorts aspect of the LGBTIQ+ experience at IGS,’ she said.
‘We had a student who identified as agender and teachers were worried about him asking not to wear a tie and if he would get into trouble for not wearing one.
‘I said let’s make them safe as they could possibly be.’