Derry and Strabane District council vote in favour of asking local schools to put an end to ‘outdated’ and ‘sexist’ uniform tradition

By Kate McGowan

Local Derry and Strabane schools will be encouraged to put an end to the uniform rule requiring pupils to wear either skirts or trousers after a motion was passed within the council with cross-party support.

The motion was put forward by SDLP Councillor, Shauna Cusack who said, “It is almost hard to believe that, in this day and age, we still have uniform policies which do not reflect our advances in fairness and equality; many are gender based and steeped in outdated traditions which by now we should have moved far beyond. While I respect and support the need for uniforms, and I know many schools wither have or are in the process of changing their policies, there are still many that haven’t and won’t.”.

The motion was seconded by Sinn Féin Councillor Aileen Mellon, who supported the motion for the council to contact all local schools regarding the issue and stated that young people, “should al- ways have the choice on what they are comfortable with.”

The motion was also supported by DUP Hilary McClintock who branded the current uniform policy ‘outdated’ and said, “It is ludicrous in this day and age to force girls to wear skirts. It is quite sexist. It goes back to a time when boys were considered more active and girls less active.”

Alliance Councillor Rachel Ferguson also backed the motion saying, “This is an outdated practice that doesn’t reflect our society today.”

However, Aontú Councillor Anne McCloskey did not support the motion by commenting “Those conversations should be had in schools and certainly not in the council chamber.”

The motion was passed with 37 voting for and one (Councillor Anne McCloskey) voting against.