By: Anne-Marie McDonald

Karla Mills, 14, in her version of the Whanganui High School uniform. PHOTO/TVNZ

In a statement, principal Martin McAllen said he and the board of trustees would like feedback from the school community on “issues related to gender and school uniforms”.

And at least one other Whanganui secondary school is reviewing rules around school uniform.

Fourteen-year-old Karla Mills was sent home from school to change after wearing trousers to school.

Karla and her mother Jessica took their campaign to TVNZ’s Fair Go programme, and it aired on Monday night.

Karla told Fair Go she always wore trousers outside school, and decided to wear trousers to school after being sick with a cold. She chose straight black trousers – very similar to those worn by the male students – saying they were warmer and more comfortable.

“I was so much warmer, I could move freely … it was just so much easier,” she said.

But her decision fell foul of High School rules and Karla was sent home to change back to the regulation girl’s skirt.

Karla said making girls wear skirts was “following the rules from the 1950s”.

“We should be catching up with the times and not living back in the past.

“Most women you see walk down the street wear pants or shorts, not skirts.”

She has taken her clothing rebellion to social media and has received a lot of support as well as some criticism.

Mr McAllen said the uniform would be reviewed by the school board this term.

“The board believes that the current policy has been in place for many years and does not adequately cater for all student needs. An important part of the review will be seeking feedback from all students and their whanau.”

Mr McAllen said the review would be finished in time for the start of the 2018 academic year.

He said the school was “concerned” that Karla went to Fair Go rather than approaching himself or the school board.

“We strongly encourage diverse open dialogue on matters that are of interest and impact on our student body or their whanau.”

The Chronicle asked other principals whether they planned to review uniform policies.

Peter Kaua from Whanganui City College said there was no plan to review their school uniform.

“We haven’t had a need for it.”

He said female students who were part of the school’s military academy wore trousers while they were on parade.

“They’re the only female students in our school who wear trousers.”

However, Cullinane College is conducting a regular review of rules and procedures, and acting prinicpal Marty Bullock said that would include uniforms.

He said the board of trustees, which included a student representative as well as representatives of the Catholic Church, would conduct the review.

“Any change will take a while to be worked through.”

Tania King, principal of Whanganui Girls’ College, declined to comment.

Source: Wanganui Chronicle

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