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School slammed over 'trouser permit'

The requirement by a high school in Kaohsiung for female students to apply for permits to wear trousers to school in summer is a sexual discrimination, two Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said yesterday.

According to media reports, the Kaohsiung Municipal San-Min Home Economics & Commerce Vocational High School (三民高商) demands that female students wear skirts in summer. Students who want to go to school in pants are asked to apply for a permit to do so.

According to an online article posted by a person who claims to be a San-Min student, the school asked a schoolmate to obtain a medical certificate for her need to wear pants. The school drill instructor recommended that the student in concern visit school councilors to determine if she has gender identity disorder, the online article said.

In a press conference yesterday, DPP Legislators Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) and Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) pointed out that the “trouser permit” requirement by San-Min High School amounts to a blatant violation of the Gender Equity Education Act.

The subsidiary regulations of the Gender Equity Education Act stipulate that a school cannot punish students for having hair styles or attire that do not conform with gender stereotypes, said Taiwan Gender Equality Education Association Secretary-General Lai Yu-mei (賴友梅). By incorporating the “trousers permit” into its rules, San-Min High School has put its regulations above the law, Lai said.

Since 2004, cases of gender discriminating hair-style or attire requirements are reported almost once every two years, Lai pointed out. Schools such as Jinou Girls High School (金甌女中), Kai Ping Culinary School (開平餐飲學校), Taipei First Girls High School (北一女), Tainan Girls' Senior High School (台南女中) and Blessed Imelda's School (靜修女中) have reportedly enforced similar requirements, she added.

She criticized the Ministry of Education of treating these cases only as isolated incidents, adding that the ministry has failed to clarify the requirements of the Gender Equity Education Act, and has also failed to better enforce the act.

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