New dress code allows choice of bottoms for female students only.
Though the word uniform literally means “one form,” on any given day at a school in Japan you’ll see two different uniforms: one for boys and one for girls. For example, at Yokota Prefectural High School in Shimane Prefecture the boys’ uniform has slacks, while the girls’ has a skirt.
However, when next school year starts in the spring, Yokota will no longer have boys’ uniforms and girls’ uniforms. That’s not because they’re going to a single identical uniform that all students will wear, though, but because the school is renaming them as Type I and Type II, as part of its evolving acknowledgment of gender identity diversity.
For the 2021 school year, Yokota’s female students will be able to choose between wearing a skirt or slacks, and the school says that a number of them have already expressed a desire to wear the latter. While no doubt some of those choices are being prompted by the greater warmth long pants provide, Yokota has made it clear that the primary reason for instituting the slacks/skirt option is not Japan’s infamously chilly classrooms, but to allow students to wear garments that they feel adequately align with how they identify in terms of gender.
Yokota will become the 13th of Shimane’s 34 full-time prefectural high schools to allow female students to wear slacks. However, the freedom to choose between wearing pants or a skirt is not being extended to the male student body. “At this stage, we are only changing the dress code [to allow students to choose] for female students,” said Kyoko Mitani, a humanities teacher at Yokota. However, she added “Taking into consideration the various opinions of students and their guardians, I want us to continue thinking about gender diversity,” implying that the school may allow male students to wear skirts before long.
Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Yahoo! Japan News via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
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