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Gender-free uniforms adopted at new junior high school in east Japan city

Uniforms adopted by Oguronomori Junior High School are seen. The left is for boys, the center and right are for girls, but they can be combined freely regardless of gender. (Photo courtesy of the Nagareyama Municipal Government)

KASHIWA, Chiba -- An eastern Japan city has decided to introduce a system where students can freely choose their own uniform, such as slacks or skirts, regardless of gender, for a municipal junior high school that will open in April 2022.

    Oguronomori Junior High School will be located in the city of Nagareyama, Chiba Prefecture. According to the Nagareyama Municipal Government, this will be the fourth public junior high school in the prefecture's Tokatsu area, which consists of six cities including Nagareyama, to introduce a free choice system for uniforms.

    The nine existing junior high schools in the city have jackets with stand-up collars for boys and sailor-style uniforms or boleros for girls, but the new school will adopt the first blazer-type uniforms in the city.

    The municipal government conducted a questionnaire survey on elementary and junior high school students and their guardians in the school zone of the new facility to determine the type of uniform. From among the blazer-type uniforms offered by three companies, it was decided by vote to adopt the navy blue-based uniform of Akashi School Uniform Co. based in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture.

    The boys' uniforms consist of a blazer, pants and a tie. The girls' uniforms comprise a blazer, skirt, pants, a tie and ribbon, and students can choose any combination such as pants and ribbon, or a skirt and a tie, regardless of gender when they purchase the uniforms.

    The free choice of school uniforms is gradually spreading across the country in consideration of sexual minorities and other factors. A representative of the school facilities division of the city's education board said, "There is consideration for LGBT and other sexual minorities, but that's not the only reason. Some children prefer to wear pants rather than skirts to protect them from the cold in winter or to ride bicycles to school, and we have responded to the diverse needs of these children."

    (Japanese original by Toshiaki Hashimoto, Kashiwa Local Bureau)

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