Islamic outfits protest after Balussery school introduces gender-neutral uniform


Kozhikode: The students who made their way to the Government Girl's Higher Secondary School in Balussery on Wednesday had a spring in their step.

The 200 girl students here were all donning the school's new gender-neutral uniform — shirts and pants —  just like the boys in their class.

Among the throng of students that made their way to the Government Girl's Higher Secondary School in Balussery here were also a mob of protesters — unsurprisingly, all men — opposed to the idea of seeing girl students in pants.

Flying the banner of the Muslim Coordination Committee, these men alleged, quite ironically, that the new rule "imposed" by the school was infringing on women's right to wear what they wish.

The group had informed Tuesday that there would be stiff opposition to the school's new rule. A few isolated protests erupted outside the school gates on Tuesday itself.

The Muslim Students Federation (MSF), which is affiliated with the political outfit Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) which holds much sway here, too were among those who voiced their protest.

Though a meeting was arranged with the Principal, the resolution they sought — i.e. withdrawal of the new rule — could not be had with the latter sticking to the decision stating that the school's rules are its own to make and safeguard.

However, the Principal also assured the public at large that no student will be, as the protesters claimed, "forced" to wear the uniform.

The Plus-Two students here are still wearing the old uniform:  kurta and churidar.

The protesters also alleged that despite the school donning the "girl's school" label, around 60 of the 260 students in Plus-One are boys.

They said that it was "inappropriate" then for the girls to be wearing such clothes.


However, none of this sits well with the girl students at the Balussery school.

On talking to several of them, Manorama News learned that most are perplexed at the protesters claim that the new rule is infringing on their rights.

"We do not have a problem. In fact, we find this attire much more comfortable to wear. That's what should matter," said one of the girls.

Another student dismissed the protesters claim that the school is forcing them to wear shirts and pants. "We want to wear this. No one is forcing us to," she said.

The teachers too had reiterated that no girl student will be forced to wear anything that they don't find comfortable.

To avert a row, police had despatched units here early. Stationed outside the school gates, they ensured that the students made their way past the mob without any difficulties.

With Muslim League outfits raking protests, the CPM-led LDF government has hit back stating that the running of schools cannot be trifled with, whatever the reason.

Higher Education Minister R Bindhu is set to lend complete support to the school's decision to introduce gender-neutral uniforms.


Support move for gender equality: Sivankutty


Reacting to the row, General Education Minister V Sivankutty said his department would support all the moves to ensure gender equality.


"Education system also has to change as per the changing times. It has already been made clear that textbooks would be audited based on gender equality, gender justice and gender awareness. Education process can move forward only with the inclusion of the progressive changes in society. However, the government's policy is not to impose anything on the people," the minister said. 

Gender-neutral uniforms have been a talking point in Kerala in recent weeks.

Adoption of a common attire - for both girls and boys - is being considered at many schools.

However, this is the first time that the same is being considered at a higher secondary level.

Earlier, Valayanchirangara LP School in Ernakulam hit headlines after they introduced short pants and shirts for all students.

Introduced first in 2018, the school had extended the gender-neutral uniform to the lower primary level a year later.

The new unisex uniform was adopted after teachers realized that girl students were keeping away from sports and other activities because of the discomfort while wearing skirts. 

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