Boy Protests No Shorts Rule at School By Wearing a Skirt []

By Andrew Levy

It’s not necessarily a photo Chris Whitehead’s parents will be framing and keeping on the mantelpiece.

But they are certainly proud of him. The 12-year-old wore a skirt to school yesterday to protest against ‘discriminatory’ rules which ban boys from wearing shorts.

He says it is unfair that girls can change into skirts during the hot weather, while boys have to swelter in long trousers.

This, he says, affects their concentration and ability to learn.

The schoolboy is taking advantage of a ‘silly loophole’ in the uniform policy at Impington Village College, near Cambridge, that means boys can wear skirts as the school would be guilty of discrimination if it tried to stop them.

‘In the summer months, girl students are allowed to wear skirts but boys are not allowed to wear shorts,’ Chris explained yesterday before his protest.

‘It discriminates against boys. I will march in a skirt with other boys waving banners and making a lot of noise.

‘I will be wearing the skirt at school all day in protest at the uniform policy and addressing the assembly with the school council.’

The year 8 pupil, who lives in nearby Histon, added: ‘Wearing a skirt is just like wearing shorts with a gap in the middle. I don’t feel silly at all. I don’t embarrass easily.’

The 1,368-pupil school, which was classed as good in its last Ofsted inspection in 2006, imposed the ban two years ago after a consultation  with parents and teachers. Its ‘Look Smart’ dress code states students must wear ‘plain black tailored trousers or knee-length skirts without slits’ – but does not specify gender.

This means that while shorts are prohibited because they are not mentioned, girls – and boys – are free to wear skirts as long as they are ‘free moving, not tight against the legs’.

Chris borrowed a skirt from his sister Joanna, 11, and was accompanied by 30 supporters waving placards saying, ‘Cool shorts, not hot pants’, ‘Shorts  for the long-term’ and ‘What’s wrong with my legs?’

And he said he intends to continue wearing the outfit.

His mother, Liz, 50, a maths teacher, said: ‘I’m delighted that Chris is taking action on what he believes in – which the school actually encourages, so he is only doing what he is taught.’

And his father, Brian, 48, who owns a publishing company, added: ‘It’s a creative and imaginative idea. I was worried about him getting picked on but he just shrugged his shoulders.’ Headmaster Robert Campbell said: ‘Our uniform policy does not state girls’ and boys’ uniforms because we can’t be discriminatory, so Chris is perfectly within his rights to wear a skirt.

‘What he has done is raise the issue in an entirely legitimate way. I think it will be right to start thinking about uniform again in September.’

An Equality and Human Rights Commission spokesman said: ‘It’s not possible to say if different uniform policies for boys and girls is or is not lawful, as it’s not been tested in the courts.’ But schools ‘should be flexible when considering students’ needs’, he added.

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