“Why can’t I wear pants like the boys?”
How do you tell a six-year-old that the reason she can’t wear pants at school is because she is a girl?
How do you tell a six-year-old that even if she feels uncomfortable running, playing soccer, kicking a footy with the other kids at lunchtime in her dress she has to lump it because she is a girl?
How do you tell a six-year-old that at her school the boys have more rights?
It’s a question a Melbourne mother of two is now grappling with.
And it’s a system she has decided she wants to change.
Asha Cariss via Facebook.
Asha Cariss, 6, is a grade one student at an unnamed Melbourne Catholic primary school. Her mother, Simone says that Asha is uncomfortable playing sport in her mandatory school tunic and thick stockings.
“My daughter loves the school and she's got a lot of friends there,” Simone Cariss told The Age.
She just wants to be allowed to wear pants.
Mrs Cariss went to the school principal to ask them to change the uniform policy so that her daughter could be comfortable at school.
She was told no.
"[Asha] basically asked, 'Why can't I wear pants like the boys?' " Mrs Cariss said.
"I'm not going to say to her, 'because you're a girl'."
So instead, her mother started a petition asking the Victorian Department of Education and the Catholic Education Department to legislate uniform gender equality in schools.
Simone Cariss and her husband, Blair with Asha via Facebook.
Mrs Cariss wrote on Facebook: “My daughter simply wants the right to wear pants or shorts at school - not just on sports days but everyday. It is 2016 after all and she is still forced to wear a dress (which is very different from choosing to wear a dress). It's antiquated, sexist and in my view discriminatory.”
“To some this may seem trivial, but to my daughter (and plenty of other kids) it makes it harder to get to school everyday, harder to join in playing soccer with the boys, harder to feel like herself as she doesn't ever choose to wear dresses and harder for all kids to avoid taking on society imposed gender stereotypes.”
She says she doesn’t want to name the school, as her daughter loves everything else about her education.
"I just want this to be changed for every little girl out there who wants to wear pants like half of their peers. It's not about naming and shaming the school,” she told The Age.