Will these protests in British schools reach our island?
The UK is currently experiencing a wave of protests by students over gender-neutral policies advocated in schools. Students are manifesting their anger against what rightly so they consider insane-neutral gender policies practices that are being imposed in their schools. The Daily Telegraph reported that such protests are instigated by short videos uploaded on Tik Tok. The question that we in Malta need to ask is whether these protests will reach our island, in particular in those schools where neutral gender policies are being shoved down our pupils’ throats.
A school that banned girls from wearing skirts was closed on Friday after pupils staged a protest against the uniform policy.
Police were called to The Warriner School, a co-educational secondary school in Banbury, Oxon, as pupils protested against the gender-neutral uniform plan and refused to attend classes.
It comes amid a spate of school protests, reportedly inspired by a trend on the social media site TikTok.
Parents were told on Thursday that all pupils must wear black trousers or knee-length shorts from September.
Lotty Keys, assistant headteacher, said that girls who “roll skirts to an inappropriate length are sending out the wrong social message in their choice of style”.
She said: “They seem to feel they need to conform to a certain image, in order to fit in with friendship groups.
“We feel this has no place in an educational setting and for this reason, we are introducing trousers for all students.”
Videos posted on social media showed a crowd of pupils in the school courtyard with girls appearing to chant: “We want skirts.”
One pupil said that “if teachers can strike over their principles, so can we”, the Banbury Guardian reported.
Thames Valley Police said that neighbourhood and response officers attended the school at around 9.10am on Friday, following “a report of a disturbance”, to ensure the safety of students and staff. No arrests were made.
Parents were sent an email later in the morning stating that the school was closing early “following the advice of police and our concerns around the safety of our school community”.
It comes after pupils at Rainford High School in St Helens, Merseyside, staged a separate protest this week over a new uniform policy requiring girls to have their skirt length inspected by teachers.
‘Punishing girls for wanting to be girls’
Several schools have banned skirts in the past year in what they say will create a more “inclusive” uniform policy.
Parents at The Warriner School accused teachers of “punishing girls for wanting to be girls”.
A parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The girls are getting the message that this is your fault because of how you dress.
“They are learning what it’s like to face blame over appearance. Let’s not stand by and let them accept this.”
In a statement, Dr Annabel Kay, executive headteacher of The Warriner School, said on Friday: “We underestimated the strength of feeling on this issue and recognise that we haven’t properly engaged or consulted with all parents and students. For this, we apologise.
“Our intention was, and remains the case, to be inclusive, supporting and empowering all our students equally and with respect.
“We have listened to our students today and we are committed to engaging further on our uniform policy, and on other future policy changes, with both parents and students in a constructive and positive manner.”
TikTok protest craze
Protests have also broken out in schools in Cornwall, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire over schools putting locks on lavatories or restricting access to loos during lessons.
Headteachers have warned that pupils are responding to a craze on TikTok, the social media app, to get people to lead a protest in a school and get lots of children involved.
Hundreds of students took part in a protest outside The Farnley Academy in Leeds, which restricts their access to lavatories during teaching periods and reportedly resulted in huge queues between lessons.
The school said its policy would “keep all students safe during times when members of staff are not on duty”.
Protests over lavatory policies also took place at Penrice Academy in St Austell, Cornwall, where pupils reportedly broke fences over changes that required girls to show a “red card” when they are on their period. At Haven High Academy, in Lincolnshire, on Thursday, pupils protested against lavatory restrictions.