National / Social Issues

Two Tokyo wards to allow female students to wear pants for school uniform

JIJI

Tokyo’s Nakano Ward has decided to allow female students at all municipal junior high schools to choose pants for their uniforms starting in April.

Setagaya Ward will also give the option to girls entering their first year at its municipal junior high schools in April, sources said Friday. The ward has 29 junior high schools.

Through the moves, the wards hope to create school environments in which children respect diverse backgrounds, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Nakano Mayor Naoto Sakai told a news conference that the decision was made after a female student in her final year of elementary school handed him a class survey showing that a majority of students want to wear pants at junior high school.

“We have accepted the children’s viewpoint,” he said.

Five of the ward’s 10 junior high schools have already allowed girls to choose between wearing skirts or pants on a daily basis, depending on weather conditions and mobility needs.

Nakano’s board of education confirmed that the pants option will be offered at the remaining five schools.

While the ward has yet to examine the idea of allowing male students to wear skirts, in part due to fears that such students may be bullied, Sakai said, “Of course some boys may prefer skirts.” Therefore, the ward has asked the principal of each school to discuss the matter, he added.

In Setagaya, new female junior high school students can wear pants as soon as their schools make the appropriate preparations.

In April 2015, the education ministry asked schools throughout Japan to show consideration for their students, including by allowing them to wear the uniforms of their self-identified genders.

Given the request, an increasing number of schools are changing girls’ school uniforms from sailor-style tops to blazers to match those worn by male students.