A six-year-old girl has finally been allowed to wear trousers to school after her mother launched an online petition calling for gender equality in choice of uniform.
Asha Cariss, from Melbourne, Australia, has today been granted the right to wear trousers temporarily while her Catholic school reviews their policy on school uniform.
Her mother, Simone Cariss, said the school had originally dismissed her request for Asha to be allowed to wear trousers rather than the regulatory tunic or dress. Writing on the online petition, which has rapidly garnered over 12,000 signatures (at the time of writing), she called the decision a "breach" of anti-discrimination legislation and questioned why "schools can so blatantly enforce that girls must wear a dress when there are other options available to other students in the same school (i.e. the boys get to wear pants)".
Describing how her daughter, who is in year one at school, "constantly" asks "why can't I wear pants like the boys?", she wrote "'Because you're a girl' is not something I am prepared to say to my 6 year old daughter".
"A daughter who I have raised to believe she can do and conquer anything, regardless of her gender, and that she can like what she wants to like and not what gender stereotypes dictate she should like," she continued.
Cariss also said the main reason her daughter wanted to wear trousers to school was so that she could play sport with her male classmates, without being weighed down by a heavy tunic or having to worry about the risk of bearing her underwear in a dress.
"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 travelling to/from school.
"Dresses disadvantage girls like my daughter who want to play footy, run, climb and ride a bike to school. The boys get to wear pants and shorts which facilitate these activities far better than a dress."
Cariss argued that a policy in which girls are not allowed to wear trousers to school could even constitute a health risk, as it prevents them from being as active as their male counterparts.
Referencing a recent Australian Government initiative to get girls to be more active, prompted by research that showed girls were only half as active as boys, she wrote, "I won't stand for a policy that only encourages and promotes girls to be active on sports days (at my daughters school this is twice per week)."
Finally, she asked for all girls to be allowed to wear trousers as well as boys in order to "diminish core gender stereotypes before they even begin".
The school has since said that it did not issue a strict refusal for girls to wear trousers, but that this may have been "miscommunicated". A newly formed school uniform review committee will now decide whether girls will be allowed to wear trousers.
Images: Simone Cariss Facebook and iStock