Ending school uniform discrimination

Following a discrimination claim against John Palmer Public School, a Sydney mum, Melissa Mibus, is calling on the NSW Department of Education to require all public schools to provide pants and shorts options for girls as part of their official school uniform.

PIAC acted for Mibus, who challenged John Palmer Public School’s failure to offer school pants or shorts as standard uniform options for girls. Ms Mibus has three daughters. Ms Mibus’ daughters sought an exemption from the policy to be able to wear shorts or pants, singling them out and leading to teasing and bullying.

Ms Mibus made a complaint to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board. John Palmer Public School now allows girls the choice of pants or shorts as part of their uniform. However, the NSW Department of Education has not changed its policy on the issue and there are still a number of schools in NSW where girls have to wear a dress or a skirt, unless they seek special permission.

‘I’m pleased John Palmer Public School have done the right thing by their students, but when my eldest daughter started high school I was disappointed to find that she was facing the same issue,’ Ms Mibus said.

‘I would like to see all schools offer girls the option of wearing pants or shorts. A few simple changes to the NSW Department of Education’s school uniform policy would benefit thousands of girls around the state,’ Ms Mibus added.

PIAC has written to the NSW Minister for Education calling for an amendment its school uniform policy to provide that NSW schools should offer a gender neutral standard uniform option for all students. 

‘It’s hard to believe that Ms Mibus had to take legal action so that girls at John Palmer Public School could wear regulation school pants or shorts without having to seek special permission,’ said PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor.

‘We are hoping the Minister will step in and ensure that all students, no matter which public school they attend, have a full choice of practical and comfortable uniform options,’ Jonathon Hunyor added.

MEDIA CONTACT: Media and Communications Manager, Gemma Pearce: 0478 739 280.

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Towards Truth is a partnership between PIAC and UNSW Indigenous Law Centre.
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