Several parents’ organizations yesterday staged a protest in front of the Ministry of Education building in Taipei against a public high school’s decision to allow male students to wear skirts to school.
The demonstrators, holding placards that read: “Win Family Back, Reverse Education,” voiced their strong opposition to a decision by New Taipei Municipal Banqiao Senior High School to relax its dress code for students.
They said that gender equality education in the nation is focused on students’ “rights,” but does not promote the idea of “responsibility.”
“The boundaries between men and women are being broken. Where does a skirt-wearing male student go when the call of nature comes?” Hung Chih-ho (洪志和) of the Kaohsiung City Parents Alliance said.
“Without boundaries, how will boys treat girls with respect?” he asked.
Exposing one’s chest and back, and other “inappropriate” dress codes does not promote respect, Hung said.
“Children like to do something wacky, to be different from others, to draw people’s attention, but now boys are to be allowed to wear skirts to school, with the school calling the change respect for students’ right of autonomy,” he said.
It is not respect, but skirting responsibility, Hung said.
The protesting groups, including the Taiwan Mothers Shield Alliance and the Parents Association, issued a statement saying the school is misleading children into believing that allowing boys to wear skirts is gender equality.
They also expressed concern that boys might be allowed to use restrooms for girls.
They said that schools should teach students more about values and self-discipline to be able to make the right judgement.
Banqiao Senior High School on Monday confirmed that starting from the new school semester in September, it would allow male students to wear skirts to school, in a move to promote gender equality.
Student Affairs Division head Lin San-wei (林三維) said the school last month scrapped a regulation regarding students’ dress code, which originally stipulated that male students can only wear pants.
Scrapping the rule means that male students can wear skirts to school if they choose to, without facing punishment, while female students can continue to wear either skirts or pants, Lin said.
Asked about the protest, Huang Ching-yi, a deputy division head at the ministry’s Department of Student Affairs, told reporters that Banqiao Senior High School’s decision was made through a democratic process that involved discussions among teachers, students, parents and administrative staff at the school.
The ministry’s guidelines for dress codes state that senior high school authorities can make changes to their dress code and hair policies, as long as they consult students and parent representatives and democratic procedures are observed, Huang said.
The ministry is soliciting public opinion on whether the guidelines should be applied to junior-high and elementary schools, she added.
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