Amid protests, government school in Kerala implements unisex uniform


KOZHIKODE: Amid protests by some people under the collective of Muslim coordination committee, the Balussery government girls higher secondary school here on Wednesday implemented the gender-neutral uniform for its students, a move which the state Higher Education minister R Bindu termed as a radical step forward.

Bindu, who inaugurated the new gender-neutral uniform of the school, said those who oppose such moves are acting against the interests of Kerala and its future generations.

“At a time when the world is heralding an age of gender justice and equality, Balussery Government Girls HSS has taken a radical step forward. Glad to have had the opportunity to officially inaugurate the school’s new gender-neutral uniform, which students have welcomed with open arms,” Bindu said.

She said there are always people who oppose the new changes. “However, such people are not protecting the interests of Kerala and our future generations. Those who love children will never oppose such progressive changes. Those who love children will support them to get adapted to clothes that suit our climate and give children freedom of movement,” Bindu said.

Earlier in the day, a section of people under the collective of Muslim coordination committee staged a protest march to the school against the new unisex uniforms, saying the decision amounts to insulting the modesty of women and that it was part of “imposing liberal ideology” among students.

They described it as anti-democratic and an encroachment on people’s right to wear anything. The higher secondary section in the school is open to both girls and boys. “There are 200 girl students and 60 boys in the batch. The authorities have asked the girl students to wear the same dress as that of the boys. We feel that it is a wrong decision. It was not taken after discussing the matter with the PTA or other stakeholders. There was no discussion prior to implementing this and it seems like this was part of imposing liberal ideology in the school,” a representative of the coordination committee told the media.

Meanwhile, general education minister V Sivankutty said the state government will encourage decisions that ensure gender justice.

“In general, the state government wants to provide education without any gender bias. The government will encourage such decisions which will help bringing in gender justice,” Sivankutty said.

The State had earlier announced that it would back the idea of gender-neutral uniforms in schools” a concept that was perhaps hitherto unthinkable to students and academics alike. Nearly a dozen schools in Kerala have already shifted to the new gender-neutral uniform.