13 October 2015
Over at the Island Nation of Puerto Rico students at public schools can now choose to wear pants or skirts as part of their uniform REGARDLESS of their gender without being punished, causing major debates in socially conservative circles.
Education Secretary Rafael Roman said the new regulation he recently signed is meant to be inclusive of gay, lesbian and transgender students. He added that teachers will no longer be allowed to discipline students who prefer to wear pants instead of skirts or vice versa.
"No student can be sanctioned for not opting to wear a particular piece of clothing ... that he or she does not feel comfortable with," he told reporters.
Girls at public schools in Puerto Rico traditionally wear skirts as part of their uniforms and the boys wear pants.
Gay rights activists and some school officials praised the measure, which comes months after Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order prohibiting bullying in public schools based on someone's sexual orientation.
"It's a bit late, but it was approved, which is important," said Cristina Torres, director of a high school in Ponce, Puerto Rico's second-largest city. "Changing people's mentality from one day to another will be hard ... The most incredible thing is that young people can accept this with an open mind, but it's the adults who discriminate."
Torres is familiar with the issue. Teachers filed a complaint against her two years ago for appearing in a picture with a student who wore women's clothing at his graduation. The student was a victim of bullying and had received an award for overcoming difficult circumstances, she said.
"Our responsibility is to protect students' rights," Torres said.
However, critics of the new regulation accused government officials of acting like dictators and stripping parents of their power.
However, Roman argues that parents have the final word on how their children dress for school anyway since they're the ones buying the uniform.