When female students asked New Zealand middle school principal, Heidi Hayward, whether they had to wear skirts to school she was a little stumped.
The uniform code at the school, Dunedin North Intermediate, said there wasn’t another option but that didn’t seem like a good enough reason for the experienced educator.
“I started at DNI in mid-2015. When I was interviewing the 2016 intake a couple of students asked me if they had to wear skirts,” Ms Hayward told Mamamia.
“I found that this was hard to answer given that I would be rather aggrieved if I was told I had to wear a skirt to work every day based on my gender.”
Rather than tell the girls they had to wear skirts, Ms Hayward set about changing the schools uniform – not just to allow female students to wear pants, but to ensure any student could wear whatever type of bottom they wanted.
And DNI’s gender neutral uniform was born, with the new policy ratified in May 2016.
Ms Hayward explained that initially, that meant removing the gendered labels from shorts, pants and kilts. They later added another stylish option for DNI students - culottes.
"The decision was really simple and has caused no significant issues, we have simply removed the labels "boys and girls" and said, these are the uniform options, pick what feels most comfortable for you," Ms Hayward said.
While no boys have so far taken up the option to wear a kilt, Ms Hayward told Mamamia that the message that anyone, regardless of gender, could wear what was comfortable was "the most important thing to us".
"There has not been a huge change in people's choices and I guess that reflects society really," she explained.
"I suspect we may see more girls in pants in winter for practical reasons.
"The message is important to us, we want our community to know that they can feel comfortable in their own skin."
After the school's initiative was first reported on in an NZ publication earlier this week it captured worldwide media attention, with many social media users singing its praises.
Ms Hayward said she was surprised by all the fuss.
"To be honest we are all a bit bemused by the attention - aside from NZ, I've done interviews for British, American and Australian media."
"Who knew something so simple (and overdue) could create such a fuss?"
Smashing stereotypes and promoting gender equality? We think that's worth a lot of fuss.
Listen: Shaynna Blaze explains how black clothes became her uniform.