London, Feb 21 (ANI): British schools have been cautioned not to force their girl students to wear skirts as doing so may violate the rights of those who want to live like boys.
The advisory issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which has enforcement powers against public bodies that breach equality law, says, "requiring pupils to wear gender-specific clothes is potentially unlawful", reports Times Online.
It adds, "pupils born female with gender dysphoria experienced great discomfort being forced to wear stereotypical girls' clothes - for example a skirt".
The guidance has been released in expectation of the government's Equality Bill coming into effect this autumn. The bill, a brainchild of the Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, makes it necessary for public authorities, including schools, to consider the effect of all their policies on minority groups. These policies include how school uniforms might affect transsexual people.
Public authorities must do all they can to ensure transsexual children are not discriminated against, or face potential legal sanctions.
The bill gives new rights to people who believe they were born into the wrong gender. They are extended this protection "regardless of whether or not they intend to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment".
Previously they had to go under medical supervision or to have had a sex change to be covered by discrimination rules. There are about 5,000 adult transsexuals in Britain.
The equality commission's official guidance, named Provision of Goods, Facilities and Services to Trans People - Guidance for Public Authorities in Meeting your Equality Duties and Human Rights Obligations, calls upon schools to be "proactive" in ensuring transsexual students do not face discrimination.
The guidelines state: "Uniform is a key issue for young trans people at schools. Many schools have strict uniform codes where boys and girls are required to wear particular clothes, for example, girls cannot wear trousers."
"This is all about giving schools information which will help them interpret the law," a commission spokesman said. (ANI)