2011 June 8

There have been numerous questions raised about the way people dress recently: a Scottish school suggested children should wear baggy clothes to avoid attracting the attention of paedophiles; slut walks arrived in the UK, proclaiming women’s right to dress as they pleased, free from the threat of sexual attack, and in Taiwan, students were given the right not to be punished for wearing sexually ambiguous clothing such as unisex trousers.

What?

Yes, until this month, schools and colleges in Taiwan had the ability to punish students who wore ‘hairstyles or clothing that did not conform to stereotypical gender norms.’ Amazingly, this was open to interpretation, so one head-teacher or school principal might say that a boy wearing a pink T-shirt was failing to keep to stereotypical norms, while another might allow that, but decide that a girl wearing shorts rather than a skirt or trousers was flouting the gender stereotype.

To the relief of students, their families and the wider world, it is now clear that Taiwanese students can wear whatever clothing they like without risking fines, detentions, suspensions or even expulsion. It’s part of a move towards removing sexual bullying and strengthens the Gender Equity Education Act by causing school employees to risk losing their jobs if they don’t manage to control sexual harassment or bullying in their institutions.



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