The #whowearsthetrousers campaign was started at Maryfield College in Drumcondra, with hopes of national changes.
It seems positively archaic – in 2022 – to be telling girls they have to wear skirts, not trousers should they wish to, for school.
And yet this is the reality for thousands of school children across Ireland – and other countries where children still wear uniforms to school.
However, one Dublin secondary school is hoping to change that, and speaking to Newstalk’s Lunchtime Live, Margaret McLaughlin who teaches at Maryfield College in Dublin explains that this is something the students really want themselves.
“One thing that the students felt very strongly about was the right to wear trousers for girls,” she explains.
“How this came up was in general discussion on equality, and then it turned out our school had already put in place… the process going to have trousers. And the girls were very intrigued by the process, and the inequality of it, that some schools have them and some don’t. So they began to think about how can we get a campaign to make sure that every girl has trousers as part of their uniform.”
McLaughlin says the reasons for this include ‘diversity, inclusivity, warmth, comfort’ and agreeing with her students, explains that alternatives to a skirt just make sense.
“During the COVID times, because of the cold, they were all told to wear tracksuits if they wished because it would be warmer. But there were schools that insisted still on the socks and the skirt in the coldest of times.”
“I suppose that added to the strong feeling that, really, it’s very outdated that girls are now still going into school in a skirt and socks. It doesn’t seem like appropriate wear”.
And McLaughlin says this could easily be changed.
“We feel that equality legislation should cover school uniforms, and it’s not that difficult to change – for Norma Foley to say ‘Look, all schools should provide trousers for girls’.
“It reflects who we are as a society now, and I think it is possible but it would take a decision at a high level.”
‘Everybody has the right to choose’
Also speaking on the radio show was Anita, a student herself at Maryfield College, who says she doesn’t think there is much support to keep the rules as they are.
“I don’t think anybody would want trousers not to be an option. Everybody does have the right to choose, because choice is really important today.”
“And everyone should have the right to choose whether they want to wear trousers or skirts to school”.