Imagine running up and down a play-yard wearing a heavy tunic and thick stockings. Now think of what it would be like to kick a ball, play tag or do anything else that most school-aged kids enjoy doing.
Not easy, right? That’s what Melbourne Year 1 student Asha Cariss thought.
When Asha felt uncomfortable playing in her school dress and stockings, she didn’t understand why her school just wouldn’t let her wear pants. Her mum Simone didn’t understand either. After asking the school to reconsider their uniforms and let her daughter wear pants, they basically said no.
Noting that the uniform issue wasn’t a reflection on the quality of the education that her daughter receives at the school, she told The Age, “I just want this to be changed for every little girl out there who wants to wear pants like half of their peers. It’s not about naming and shaming the school.”
“I feel like they should at least have a choice of pants and shorts, and they don’t,” Ms Cariss told 3AW on Monday morning. Ms Cariss said Asha liked playing sport but the winter dress and stockings inhibited her.
The Catholic school argued that the “No” Mrs Cariss cited was never actually their policy and they admitted their response may have been miscommunicated to the family. Striving for gender equality on what children wear to school, Mrs Cariss started an online petition which now has more than 14,000 supporters.
“My daughter, like many other girls, simply wants the choice to wear pants like half of her peers, with the warmth and freedom to be active at school and traveling to/from school.”
A spokesperson for the Victorian education minister James Merlino told The Age, “Government school councils are advised to develop dress code requirement that are similar for both sexes” and that students should have, “options.”
The more interest (and signatures) that the petition gained, the less the school stuck to their decision and have since announced they had reversed their dress code, allowing girls to choose which types of uniform option they wanted.
Mrs. Cariss told ABC Online News, “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.”
How did Asha feel about the school’s reversal? Of course, the little girl was thrilled! ABC news reported that Mrs. Cariss said, “(Asha) had a bit of a fist pump in the air moment and then put her arms around me and hugged me.”