Campaign sees girl allowed to wear pants to Catholic school

A Melbourne Catholic school will let a girl wear pants instead of a tunic to school after a social media campaign to change its uniform policy.

The campaign started after media coverage of grade 1 pupil Asha Cariss’s objections over not being allowed to wear pants to school.

The school’s previous uniform policy was that girls wear a tunic and tights or socks.

Simone Cariss, Asha’s mother, had said the policy was impractical for a young girl who wanted to run around and play sports at lunchtime.

Ms Cariss started a petition calling for gender equality in school uniforms.

This sparked considerable media interest and the school responded.

“The principal called me [on Monday morning] and said they’d reconsidered their position and that Asha can wear pants if she likes, and they will set up a school uniform committee to work how we roll out pants being available for girls in the school,” Ms Cariss said.

Ms Cariss said she was fighting for equal opportunity in schools.

“I’m prepared to fight really hard for our young girls, our most impressionable girls, that they don’t have to be forced to wear dresses in this day and age. It’s 2016.”

Ms Cariss said some critics questioned why she did not remove her daughter from the school and send her to one with a more flexible stance.

The mother said she didn’t know about the uniform policy when she enrolled her daughter.

Ms Cariss asked Asha if she would like to leave the school, but the girl said she loved the school in every other way.

“I’m just really pleased the school has come around, and my daughter is able to stay there and be much happier and not feel like she’s not equal to half of her peers,” Ms Cariss said.

Speaking before the school’s change in uniform policy, Catholic Education Melbourne executive director Stephen Elder said decisions around uniform were dealt with at an individual school level, where school leaders take local concerns and contexts into account.


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