A primary school sparked furious backlash from parents after ‘banning’ summer gingham dresses to make the uniform more ‘gender-neutral’.
The small rural school has hastily rowed back on the reasoning it initially gave when it informed parents that the popular red dress was no longer part of the uniform.
The Telegraph reported that Huttoft Primary School in Lincolnshire sent out an email on Friday (March 31), which stated: “This change has been brought in due to our pupil voice to make our Uniform Policy gender neutral.” However, the school then issued a statement the following day claiming this was an “error” and the decision had “nothing to do with gender” after an angry response from some parents.
One mother told the Telegraph: “It’s a load of rubbish. You don’t send out something and then say it was in error because you realise the backlash that you’re receiving from it. A lot of the parents I have spoken to are quite outraged by it.”
The clarifying statement put out by the school, dated April 1, read: “We made an error in a communication we sent out to parents yesterday, and we’d like to correct it. The gingham dress has been removed from our school uniform policy.
“The main reason for this change is to reduce costs for parents and carers who buy the gingham dress as an additional school uniform item for the summer term. We also listened to our pupils, some of whom questioned the need for a summer dress.
“We should not have included any reference to ‘gender neutral’ in our communication. The removal of the gingham dress from the uniform policy has nothing to do with gender.”
However, critics were not convinced. On Twitter, Leilani Dowding (@LeilaniDowding) shared a screengrab of the statement on the school’s website, writing: “What a ridiculous backtrack!! You don’t accidentally add in ‘gender neutral’. You’ve seen the backlash. What if parents already bought the dresses.??”
In reply, Emilian Jung (@emilianjung) wrote: “Yup, I can totally see five year olds having a heated debate regarding the need of a summer dress. Nothing to do with virtue signalling gone wrong. They listened to the children.”
Angie Cornew (@AngieCornew) added: “May I add that the summer dresses have only ever been optional in the summer. The grey school skirt and dress has always been allowed any time of the year at Huttoft school.”
The statement on the school website has since been updated. A reworded message dated April 2 reads: “We made an error in a communication we sent out to parents on Friday (31st March), and we’d like to correct it.
“We should not have included any reference to ‘gender neutral’. The removal of the gingham dress has nothing to do with gender; the uniform policy still includes skirts for pupils in Reception, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.
“The change was born out of a genuine desire to reduce costs for parents and carers who buy the gingham dress as an additional uniform item for the summer term. We also listened to our pupils, some of whom questioned the need for a summer dress.
“We would like to apologise for any upset or confusion our communication may have caused.”