A coalition of students, teachers and lawyers submitted a petition to the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology on March 26.
As you may know by now, most middle and high schools in Japan require students to wear school uniforms. Formal trousers or pleated skirts with buttoned shirts, ties or ribbons, and a blazer with school logo have become a ubiquitous part of school life in Japan. If students don’t have it, it’s almost a mistake to wear. they.
But some people disagree. A coalition of students, teachers, and lawyers initiated a petition giving students the right to choose whether to wear school uniforms or not. They managed to collect nearly 19,000 signatures to support the cause.
The title of the petition is: “Are you free to choose not to wear school uniforms?” Created by Hidemi Saito (pseudonym), a school teacher in Gifu Prefecture, it is not only supported by students and other teachers, but also by lawyers, local education chairpersons, and businessmen And the support of activists.
When Saito noticed that school uniforms did not seem to affect students’ behavior, he created the petition. Since June 2020, due to the pandemic, students at Saito’s school have been allowed to wear school uniforms or casual clothes to allow students to wash their school uniforms between wearing to prevent the virus from accumulating on the fabric.
As a result, half of the students have been wearing school uniforms and half are wearing ordinary clothes. But Saito noticed that even if half of them did not wear uniforms, there were no new problems in his school. On the contrary, students can now choose their own clothes and seem to have a new sense of freedom, which makes the school environment more comfortable.
This is why Saito initiated the petition; because he believes that Japanese schools have too many regulations and excessive restrictions on students’ behavior, which damages students’ mental health. He believes that regulations such as requiring students to wear white underwear, not dating or engaging in part-time jobs, not braiding or dyeing hair are unnecessary, and according to a survey under the guidance of the Ministry of Education, strict school rules like this are in 2019. There are reasons why 5,500 children are not in school.
“As an education professional,” Saito said, “it’s hard to hear that students are hurt by these rules, and some students lose the opportunity to learn because of this.
Saito believes that compulsory uniforms may be a school rule that causes pressure on students. He listed some reasons in the petition, explaining why uniforms, in particular, harm the mental health of students. On the one hand, they are not sensitive to transgender students who are forced to wear the wrong school uniform, and students who feel overloaded cannot tolerate them, which forces them to find schools that do not need them. School uniforms are also extremely expensive. Of course, don’t forget the obsession with school uniforms that makes female students a perverted target.
However, it can be seen from the title of the petition that Saito does not advocate the complete abolition of uniforms. On the contrary, he believes in freedom of choice. He pointed out that a survey conducted by the Asahi Shimbun in 2016 showed that people’s opinions on whether students should wear uniforms or personal clothing were very average. Although many students are annoyed by the restrictions imposed by uniforms, many other students prefer to wear uniforms because they help hide income differences, etc.
Some people may suggest that the school keep school uniforms, but allow students to choose between wearing skirts or trousers. This sounds like a good suggestion, but, in addition to not solving the problem of the high cost of school uniforms, it also leads to another way for students to feel isolated. For example, a private school recently allowed female students to wear slacks, but it has become a stereotype that female students who wear slacks to school are LGBT, so few people do so.
This was said by a 17-year-old high school student who participated in the petition press release. “It is normal for all students to choose the clothes they want to wear to school,” said a student who is a member of her school’s student council. “I think this will really find the source of the problem.”
This is why Saito petitioned the government to allow students to choose whether to wear school uniforms or everyday clothes; so that students can freely decide what they want to wear and will not because they don’t like, can’t afford or can’t wear the clothes they are forced to wear And feel too pressure to miss their education wear.
Therefore, the petition requires the following four things from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan:
“1. The Ministry of Education clarifies whether schools should have the right to force students to wear school uniforms that they do not like or cannot wear. 2. The Ministry conducts nationwide research on the rules and practicality of school uniforms and dress codes. 3. The Ministry of Education clarifies schools Should a system be established to post school rules on an open forum on its homepage, where students and parents can express their opinions. 4. The Ministry of Education clarified whether schools should immediately abolish regulations affecting students’ mental health.”
Saito also stated informally that he and his colleagues also hope that the Ministry of Education will issue guidelines on appropriate school regulations.
The Change.org petition was submitted to the Ministry of Education on March 26, with 18,888 signatures, but it is still open to the public for signatures. At the time of writing, there are 18,933 signatures and they are still counting. Those who agree have various comments and personal experiences to share why they think free choice is a good choice:
“Girl students are not allowed to wear pants or even pantyhose in winter. This is a violation of human rights.” “We don’t have uniforms in high school, and it doesn’t cause any special problems.” “The elementary school lets children wear everyday clothes, so I don’t understand. Why do middle and high schools need uniforms? I really don’t like the idea that everyone must look the same.” “Uniforms are mandatory because they are easy to manage. Just like prison uniforms, they are meant to suppress the identity of students.” “I think it makes sense to let students choose, let them wear clothes that suit the season, and adapt to different genders.” “I have atopic dermatitis, but I can’t cover it up with a skirt. That’s too difficult.” “For mine.” I spent nearly 90,000 yen (US$820) on all the uniforms for the children.”
With this petition and its many supporters, Saito hopes that the ministry can make an appropriate statement to support this cause. He said that he hopes that Japanese schools can also take the “new normal” caused by the epidemic as an example and create a “new normal” for schools. “Due to the pandemic, the school is changing,” he told Bengoshi.com News. “If we want to change school rules, now is the best time. This may be the last opportunity for decades to come.”
The Ministry of Education has not yet issued an official response, so we will have to wait for the acceptance of this petition, but hope that Japanese schools will change in the future.
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Post time: Jun-07-2021