Where is your Pride?

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CEMB at Pride in London

When you deny your own a voice, you have none.

Pride parades and marches can be wonderful events. They are a celebration of one’s sexuality and gender. They are all about LGBTQ people being loud and proud. They are also a firm statement to the cishet majority, “We’re here, we’re queer; get used to it.”

The Pride movement grew out of the Stonewall riot of 28 June 1969, when police raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City. The Stonewall inn was a progressive bar which was frequented by the local LGBTQ community. The riots which followed the raid led to “Stonewall” becoming a bye-word for LGBTQ direct action. A year later, on 27 June 1970 the first “Gay Liberation” march took place in Chicago, followed by Los Angeles and Philadelphia the following day. These marches were to remember Stonewall and to stand up for gay rights. It was from these that annual marches sprang up across the globe, taking the name “Pride” and coming to encompass the entire LGBTQ movement. As society moves towards a greater understanding of sexuality and gender, but with a great deal of prejudice still existing they are more important now than they have ever been.

We therefore see that Pride events are deeply steeped in political activism and taking a stance for LGBTQ rights. So you would think that they would be a legitimate time for protest, wouldn’t you? Except in the United Kingdom, you would be wrong.

On 8 July Pride in London took place, at which members of the secular group “Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain” (CEMB) took part, with some carrying placards stating “Allah is Gay”, “Fuck Islamic homophobia”, “Islamophobia is an oxymoron” and “Throw ISIS off the roof”. Enter East London Mosque, who lodged an official complaint with Pride in London, who objected to the “Islamophobia” from the CEMB.

Mosque spokesman Salman Farsi stated “We’ve raised a complaint with the co-chairs of the event that the group was inciting hatred against Muslims, and in particular [in relation] to our good name, based on absolutely groundless reasons. For us to see such a mainstream event that is supposed to celebrate tolerance and love used as a hate platform was really quite shocking. One of the signs said ‘Islamophobia is an oxymoron’. Our religion doesn’t promote hatred or homophobia. Yes, there might be theological topics dealing with homosexuality in Islam, but that’s clearly very separate from promoting hatred and homophobia,”

Except of course, you cannot separate the two. Islam, like all the Abrahamic faiths, IS a homophobic religion. And the East London Mosque is rarely out of the news, having been investigated on more than one occasion for links to Islamist hate preachers.

So, how would you have expected Pride in London to respond to this? One would have expected them to rally behind their own LGBTQ participants, wouldn’t one? Except you would be wrong. Instead Pride in London sided with the East London Mosque and condemned the CEMB.

Pride in London responded, “If anyone taking part in our parade makes someone feel ostracised, discriminated against or humiliated, then they are undermining and breaking the very principles on which we exist. Our code of conduct is very clear on this matter. All volunteers, staff and parade groups agree that Pride celebrates diversity and will not tolerate any discrimination of any kind. While our parade has always been a home to protest, which often means conflicting points of view, Pride must always be a movement of acceptance, diversity and unity. We will not tolerate Islamophobia.”

Where was the hate? Where was the alleged “Islamophobia”? It surely cannot be in saying “Allah is Gay”, as that could only be an insult if being gay was in any way derogatory. Contrary to press reports, there were no signs saying “Fuck Islam”, but rather “Fuck Islamic homophobia” – those are two different things. And sorry, but Islamophobia IS an oxymoron; a contradiction in terms which ultimately makes sense, like “military intelligence”. Islam is a hateful and hate-filled religion. That is not a statement against individual Muslims, but rather against the barbaric dark ages bastard child of Christianity. Islam is one of the biggest threats in the world today, and most of those who suffer at its hands are in fact Muslims. That’s not prejudice, it is a fact.

It appears to me that Pride in London really shot themselves in the foot over this one. So having calmed down from headdesking, I was just about over it when story No.2 broke.

Belfast Pride took place on 5 August, in the wake of the UK having a General Election and the Conservative Party only squeezing back into power after doing a deal with the biggest party in power in Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP); a Christian-based party known for their extreme conservative opposition to equal marriage and other LGBTQ and human rights issues. Northern Ireland is the only part of the British Isles which still does not allow same-sex marriage, and that is a direct consequence of DUP policies.

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Eleanor Evans (right) at Belfast Pride

Bisexual woman Eleanor Evans attended Belfast Pride carrying a home-made placard stating “Fuck the DUP”. She was already halfway thought the parade, having passed a number of police with not problem, when a Belfast Pride official came running towards her and shouting at her. Evans clam that the official told her “Either put the sign down or leave the parade.” before trying to rip the sign out of her hands and pushed her. Evans, an LGBTQ charity worker, who attended the event with her transgender sister, reported the incident at an information point, and was curtly told she would have to email them for official action to be taken.

Belfast Pride duly investigated that matter, have utterly denied that Eleanor Evans was pushed or assaulted, or any other wrongdoing on the part of the official concerned, and have not offered any apology. Seán Ó Néill, Chair of Belfast Pride, instead claimed that Eleanor’s sign “breached the Parades Commission’s guidelines”, which state that parade participants “refrain from using words or behaviour which could reasonably be perceived as being intentionally sectarian, provocative”. Eleanor’s sign was most certainly not sectarian – it did not single out the DUP as being Protestants – and I have personally seen much, MUCH more provocative signs at many parades. Including the extremely provocative Orange parades which are a blight upon both Northern Ireland and my own native Scotland, many of which are attended by DUP politicians and other members.

Oh, and were it not enough that Belfast Pride enforced Evans to take her sign down, a DUP politician has now reported her to the Police Service of Northern Ireland for “hate speech”. Tell me that’s not victimisation of an LGBTQ person?

So, reeling from a double whammy, I breathed a sigh of relief, and though I could not be there, I was happy for friends who were attending Glasgow Pride on 19th August, and all the happier that it would be opened by Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland.

It was in the late afternoon that people started posting of arrests at Glasgow Pride. Homophobes? Transphobes? Nope. LGBTQ people.

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Arrests at Glasgow Pride

In a bloc of LGBTQ members of Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) one marcher carrying a placard declaring “These Faggots Fight Fascists” was approached by police, and he and another IWW member were arrested for “alleged breach of the peace with homophobic aggravation, police obstruction and resisting police arrest”. Except the sign was not homophobic, as the man carrying it is gay, and identifies as a ‘faggot’. Arresting a gay man for carrying a sign saying “faggot”, claiming homophobia, is akin to accusing a black person using the N word of being racist, and arresting them for hate speech. The protestor was carrying the sign to reflect recent events in the USA, where neo-Nazis descended on Charlottesville University. It was a message of solidarity to those fighting fascism across the Atlantic Ocean.

In a separate incident another man, and two women of the LGBTQ women’s drumming band Sheboom were arrested but later liberated after breaking from the parade and playing outside a Roman Catholic cathedral. Glasgow bye-laws prohibit this.

So, again you would expect Pride to stand by LGBTQ participants, and again you would be wrong. In a press statement, Pride Glasgow said;

“Pride Glasgow is extremely disappointed in the actions of a small group of people that tried to target the Pride Glasgow Parade yesterday. Whilst Pride Glasgow promotes an Equality for all agenda and free speech the actions of this group jeopardised the safety of everyone attending the parade.

The Pride Parade in Glasgow has always been a platform for protest alongside a celebration of LGBTI life and we are saddened that this shameful attempt to sabotage the parade has come from within the LGBTI community.

Pride Glasgow fully encourage the participation of uniformed services in the Parade including the Police and whilst we understand that others may have a different view on this. Actions which endanger others will not be permitted.

Pride Glasgow support the actions of Police Scotland in dealing with this group to ensure the safety of everyone on the Parade and the Festival. Pride Glasgow has worked closely with the police and relevant agencies to put appropriate measures in place to deal with incidents at all levels especially given the current threat level.

This year’s Parade was one of the biggest ever to happen in Glasgow and with over 90 floats and walking groups alongside over 6000 individuals the majority of which followed the correct guidelines set out by Glasgow City Council for Parades but we were disappointed that Sheboom a group who have taken part historically in the parade felt the need to break this by splitting the parade and continuing to play music outside the Cathedral which is a requirement from Glasgow City Council for all Parades to cease music during the passing of any place of worship.”

I would love to see just how anyone was put in danger by peaceful protestors. Yes, IWW objected to the police presence on the parade – which I do not agree with them protesting; it’s only right that we show that LGBTQ people are in ALL walks of life. But on the other hand it appears to me that the police got heavy-handed. I am actually a veteran steward of many peace marches and I would immediately like to know why police officers, supposedly taking part in the parade, took it upon themselves to approach the individual with the “These Faggots Fight Fascists”, or Sheboom, without approaching Pride Glasgow stewards or officials first. That is the usual course of action to take, and it is only when stewards will not act that police action is usually taken.

As to Sheboom, if they broke from the march and played outside a RC cathedral, they were indeed in the wrong.  However, the bye-laws concerning playing outside places of worship were instituted to prevent sectarian provocation, which too often has erupted in violence.  In the past.  To arrest peaceful members of a lesbian drumming band on the same pretext is unspeakable.

As far as I can see, no-one jeapordised the safety of anyone at Pride Glasgow. Well, certainly not until members of Police Scotland started wrestling peaceful protestors to the ground and handcuffing them.

For Pride Glasgow to say that they promote free speech whilst supporting the arrest of a man stating that he fights fascism is in itself derisory. I have heard that some were against the parade being “politicised”. Well, if that’s the case, then why did Pride Glasgow invite the Scottish National Party (SNP) First Minister of Scotland to open it? You don’t get much more political than that – particularly in Scotland. Indeed, whilst I appreciate the importance of a serving First Minister of Scotland opening Pride Glasgow, if they are so fond of free speech and non-partisan, why did they not invite ALL party leaders in Scotland to jointly open the event? In fact, that would have been much more fitting, given that Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale are both openly lesbian, and the co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, Patrick Harvie, is gay.

The behaviour of Pride organisers in London, in Belfast, and in Glasgow, over these incidents has been disgraceful. Well, this faggot fights fascists too. And that includes the fascism of political Islam, the fascism of the DUP, and of the fascism of the extreme right both in the USA and here at home. I stand by the CEMB, I stand by Eleanor Evans, I stand by the IWW, and I stand by Sheboom – all of whom were taking a stand against those who would quite happily kill every participant in every Pride event. It is only a pity that Pride in London, Belfast Pride, and Glasgow Pride apparently do not have the guts to make that stance too, but are quite happy to sleep with the enemy instead.

Pride? Try “Abject Shame”.

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Cartoonist Sophie Labelle tells the Trans Advocate of Neo-Nazi attacks

10887151_349427518572852_6878044040955739326_oMy favourite transgender cartoonist Sophie Labelle, creator of Assigned Male Comics and colouring books which challenge gender stereotypes and teach children that it is normal to be whoever they are, has made it to the Trans Advocate.

Sadly, it is because of the attacks that Sophie has suffered from transphobes, TERFs, and more recently Neo-Nazis.  I have personally seen some of the attacks the lovely Sophie has been subjected to, including death threats, and believe me they make me pale ~ and I don’t scare easily.  So how she keeps that pretty face smiling speaks volumes of the courage of this beautiful young lady.

Earlier this year her Facebook page was cloned by Neo-Nazis posting transphobic hate messages.

Assigned Male Comics surrounds the life of a little transgender girl, Stephie, who like all good cartoon characters, finds a special place in your heart where she will stay with you forever.

Link to the Trans Advocate article:

https://www.advocate.com/current-issue/2017/7/20/young-trans-artist-targeted-neo-nazis

UK Government to Overhaul Gender Recognition

GRC applicationBe better scrapping it altogether.

The UK government is to carry out a consultation on changing legal gender for transgender easier than the mess it currently is.

Under the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, those wishing to change legal gender have to undergo a lengthy bureaucratic and demeaning process to gain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), and it is only once they have a GRC that they can change their gender on official documents.

To gain a GRC, a transgender person over 18 must

  • be diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria
  • have lived fully for the last two years in their acquired gender
  • prove that they intend to live permanently in an acquired gender

The applicant sends their application, along with supporting documentation – and a £140 fee, to the Gender Recognition Panel, based in Leicester, who then forward it to the actual panels of HM Courts & Tribunals Service, where civil servants deliberate over them and decide whether or not to grant the GRC.

Paper applications are usually accepted, although in exceptional cases an oral hearing can take place, which means the application having to make a trip to London, possibly staying overnight, and being interrogated by a cisgender panel.

Many transgender people don’t even bother to apply for a GRC, not only because of the bureaucracy, but because they see it as an unwelcome governmental intrusion into their private lives.

The Equalities Minister Justine Greening said that the government, having listened to activists, intends to set up a consultation upon the process in autumn. Proposals include removing the need for medical diagnosis of gender recognition, with transgender people being able to self-diagnose, as is the case in the Republic of Ireland, and scrapping the two-year transitioning period.

I can only say it’s not before bloody time, dears. The entire process of applying for a GRC, before a transgender person can even get a birth certificate with their ‘acquired’ gender upon it, is overtly bureaucratic, an unwelcome intrusion into private lives and costly for many.

The two-year transition puts young transgender people at a distinct disadvantage, as not only do they have to first be medically diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria, they then have to live for two years under the gender they identify with, which means they will be at least 20 years old before they can even think of applying for a GRC. As I have pointed out before, this can lead to transgender young offenders being put in danger, when they are sent to prisons according to their assigned birth gender.

There is no mention however of doing away with the fee for a GRC. This puts transgender people in the lower income bracket completely at a disadvantage. Who can afford £140 for a GRC when they are struggling to make ends meet? How many poorer transgender people will even think of a GRC when their more pressing priority is getting a food bank referral? Where is this money going anyway, apart from into government coffers? As far as I can see the GRC is nothing short of a “Trans Tax”.

But another thought crosses my mind, and that is just what is the Scottish Government doing about gender recognition in Scotland. On 31st May 2016 the Scottish National Party (SNP) First Minister, the simply lovely Nicola Sturgeon, vowed that if she were re-elected that she would make changes for transgender and non-binary people in Scotland to bring gender recognition “iin line with international best practice”.

Nicola Sturgeon, who was duly re-elected, promised to allow transgender people to change their birth certificates and other official documents without need for medical diagnosis, legal recognition for 16-17 year old transgender people – allowing them to change their birth certificates without parental permission, and the legal recognition of non-binary individuals, intersex equality, and same-sex pension equity.

One year on, the SNP repeated these promises in their 2017 General Election manifesto. Well, the SNP have been re-elected to the Scottish Parliament for over a year now, the General Election took place on 8 June, and the SNP still managed to get more votes than Labour, the Tories, and the Lib-Dems put together – and I am seeing no apparent movement on these promises.

Come on, Nicola. You’re dragging your heels, dear (as nice heels as they may be).  It would be terribly embarrassing for Westminster to beat Holyrood to the post on this issue.  Especially considering they already did so on same-sex marriage.

Looking for an Ark Encounter?

20045521_1596311390399211_7503626277058911484_oYou have to see this, dears.  Creationist Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis (AiG), the Creation Museum in Pittsburg, Kentucky, and Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Virginia, has had the latter lit up in rainbow colours at night.

Ken Ham, maintains that the Biblical record of creation is historically and chronologically accurate, the entire universe being created by God in six days, 6000 years ago.  He completely refutes biological evolution, despite looking so simian himself that he could get a part in a Planet of the Apes movie – without any need for make-up.

Kenny baby has now had his ailing exhibition lit up in an attempt to “reclaim” the rainbow from the LGBT+ community.

The photo on his Facebook page was accompanied with the following statement;

“We now have new permanent rainbow lights at the Ark Encounter so all can see that it is God’s rainbow and He determines its meaning in Genesis 6.

The rainbow is a reminder God will never again judge the wickedness of man with a global Flood—next time the world will be judged by fire.

The Ark is lit permanently at night with a rainbow to remind the world that God owns it and He decreed it’s a sign of His covenant with man after the Flood—Christians need to take back the rainbow as we do at the Ark Encounter.”

Personally, I think it looks simply FABULOUS!  I simply LOVE it.

Ark Encounter, which was originally meant to be a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark, with displays and anitromic animals – and dinosaurs – opened on 7 July 2016, after a controversial start.  Tax incentives were given to AiG to build the project on the grounds that it would attract tourism into the area.  Public money was used to build roads and other infrastructure to the attraction also on the basis that it would be recouped through tourism.  Both of these measures brought complaints from American secularists and atheists, pointing out that the US Constitution expressly establishes a ‘wall between church and state’.  Nonetheless, the project went ahead.

Then AiG discovered they could not make it as authentic as they liked.  Irksome little things such as health and safety laws, fire escapes, public lavatories, sanitation, electricity ducts, ventilation, light, etc, meant that instead of a full boat with one door and window, Ken Ham had to build half an ark with several windows, resting on concrete pillars, and supported by modern buildings to the rear.

Following complaints of discriminatory employment practices, the US Federal Court ruled in 2016 that AiG could insist in their terms of employment that employees must believe that the Bible is the historically accurate word of God and accept and believe in Young Earth Creation.

Ken ham  boasted that the number of visitors would be over 2 million per year.  In fact, people have failed to appear in such numbers, and Ham himself has kept downplaying the estimate of visitor numbers.  In an interview in Gospel Herald, Ham stated that in the first year Ark Encounter may hit their own lower estimate for the first year of operation of 1.1 million visitors.  The Lexington Herald Leader reported on 2 July 2017 that Ark Encounter co-founder Mike Zorath stated that the Ark would welcome it’s 1 millionth visitor in July.

And what caused this failure in visitor numbers?  Well, first Ken Ham tried to claim it was due to opening in the middle of the holiday season.  That may well be true, but it was Ken Ham himself who chose to open it on 7 July 2016, to reflect Genesis 7:7, “And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.”  So if it failed, due to bad timing, Ham has no-one but himself to blame for that.

But then, he can always blame the atheists.  Which is precisely what Ken Ham did in a June 2017 AiG blog post;

“Recently, a number of articles in the mainstream media, on blogs, and on well-known secularist group websites have attempted to spread propaganda to brainwash the public into thinking our Ark Encounter attraction is a dismal failure.

Sadly, they (atheists and the secular media) are influencing business investors and others in such a negative way that they may prevent Grant County, Kentucky, from achieving the economic recovery that its officials and residents have been seeking.”

The latest controversial move is AiG selling the park – to themselves.  AiG applied for an exemption to a new local safety tax in Grant County, Virginia, on the grounds that it was a religious organisation.   On June 29, Williamstown City Attorney Jeffrey Shipp rejected their request, stating that it was clear that Ark Encounter is a for-profit entity, which is how it has been listed with the Secretary of State’s office since 2011.  AiG’s reaction was to sell their main parcel of land at the park, which the Ark sits on, to their not-for-profit subsidiary, Crosswater Canyon, for the princely sum of $10, so that it can be reclassified as a religious organisation.

Seems to me that Ken Ham and his associates need to make up their mind.  It is either a visitor attraction, or a religious organisation.  If it is the latter, then it should not be given tax incentives which would breach the secular US Constitution.

Of course, if he is really struggling, he could always turn the largest timber structure in the world into the world’s biggest LGBT+ nightclub.  Whaddya say, Kenny baby?

Ehe Fuer Alle ~ Germany Votes for Equal Marriage

30-germany.w710.h473Another European domino falls.

In a move which has surprised many, Germany has held a snap vote which has approved same-sex marriage and adoption.

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, whose Christian Democrat Party (CDU) is in a coalition with the Social Democrat Party (SPD), has previously been strenuously against equal marriage on the grounds of “children’s welfare” and admitted to having a “hard time” with the issue. However, on 26 June in an interview with women’s magazine Brigette, Chancellor Merkel said she had a “life-changing experience” when she had dinner with a lesbian couple who are fostering eight children, and would allow a free vote on the issue in the future.

As the news spread supporters of equal marriage spread the message on social media, including sharing the hashtag #EheFeurAlle (Marriage for all) on Twitter, and calling for a vote as soon as possible. The SPD seized this initiative by calling for a vote by the time the German parliament went into recess by the week ending 30 June 2017. Although the SPD are trailing the CDU in the polls for the upcoming German election, they had signalled that there would by no future coalitions unless marriage reform was agreed upon. The Green Party, the far-left Linke Party, and the pro-business Free Democrats said likewise.

So it was, amidst Angela Merkel claiming she had been “ambushed” that the vote took place on Friday, 30 June, and was passed by 393 to 226, with four abstentions. Chancellor Merkel voted against, and said afterwards that she still believed “marriage was between a man and a woman” but did add that the passing of the bill would bring more “social cohesion and peace”.

Germany now joins the club of European nations which have legalised equal marriage. The others are;

Belgium (2003)
Denmark (2012)
England (2013)
Finland (2017)
France (2013)
Iceland (2010)
Ireland (2015)
Luxembourg (2015)
Netherlands (2001)
Norway (2009)
Portugal (2010)
Scotland (2014)
Spain (2005)
Sweden (2009)

Other types of civil partnerships are recognised by:

Andorra (2014)
Austria (2010)
Croatia (2014)
Czech Republic (2006)
Cyprus (2015)
Greece (2015)
Hungary (2009)
Italy (2016)
Liechtenstein (2011)
Slovenia (2006)
Switzerland (2007)

The tiny state of San Marino has recognised unregistered cohabitation since 2012.

There is no recognition of equal marriage in Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Monaco, Romania, Russia, Turkey and the Vatican City. Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine have specific constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. Malta’s new Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, has committed his government to passing same-sex marriage this summer.

In the UK, equal marriage is now law in the UK bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia on Cyprus, in Gibraltar, the UK dependencies of Gibraltar, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. Alderney recognises same-sex foreign marriage, the tiny island of Sark has no recognition, while the Bailiwick of Jersey and the province of Northern Ireland have civil partnerships, with the latter stalwartly holding out against equal marriage.

That’s Northern Ireland where the UK government just recently squeaked into power after giving a £1 billion bribe to the homophobic, transphobic, anti-abortion, Biblical creationist, climate change denying Democratic Unionist Party  to support them, dears.

Schoolboys Protest No Shorts Rule – By Wearing Skirts

Isca Boys

Boys at Isca Academy

And my faith in humanity is restored.

As temperatures in the south of England soared to over 30C (86F) recently, 15-year-old Ryan Lambeth was one of many boys attending Isca Academy, Exeter, (Isca being the Roman name for Exeter) who complained of the heat in the long black trousers which are part of the compulsory school uniform, and requested to wear shorts to know avail. It was Ryan’s mother, Claire (43) who asked one teacher that if girls can wear skirts, why can’t the boys wear shorts? But the school refused to move on the issue.

His mother’s actions did however give Ryan an idea. He decided to borrow and wear an Isca Academy uniform skirt, and contacting his friends, so did five others that morning.

The idea may also have come from a 14-year-old who wanted to wear shorts and was sarcastically told by the headteacher “Well, you can wear a skirt if you like”. Whatever, the idea took off as more and more boys borrowed uniform skirts from girlfriends and sisters, braving the giggles and taunts from others. By Thursday, 22 June, around 30 boys turned up in Isca Academy girls skirts. Not one boy was punished, and as the idea took off, the taunts soon died away and the boys were being championed for their stance. Only one boy was pulled up for his skirt exposing too much of his hairy legs. Some other boys had reportedly shaved their legs.

Even as temperatures dropped to more liveable 20C (70F), the boys continued to wear the skirts, partially to keep up the protest to wear shorts and partially because some prefer the air and freedom which the female uniform affords them. By this time the headteacher, Aimee Mitchell announced that the school was prepared to think again.

“We recognise that the last few days have been exceptionally hot and we are doing our utmost to enable both students and staff to remain as comfortable as possible, Ms Mitchell said, “Shorts are not currently part of our uniform for boys, and I would not want to make any changes without consulting both students and their families. However, with hotter weather becoming more normal, I would be happy to consider a change for the future.”

There are echoes here of a story I reported four years ago, when Swedish train drivers complaining of heat in their cabs reaching 35C (95F) were refused shorts and instead turned to wearing uniform skirts. The train operating company could not touch them, as doing so would be a discriminatory move and thereby illegal (see https://xandradurward.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/training-skirts-takes-on-a-new-meaning/). Likewise French bus drivers in Nantes have followed the same lead, turning to wearing skirts as temperatures soared to 38C (100F).

What really impresses me about the Isca Academy story however, is the way that the idea took off, and how the boys were able to carry out their protest without fear of bullying. That has got to be a positive move, which shows that perhaps the younger generation has a more accepting attitude to dress choice of others. In England 120 schools have adopted a gender-neutral policy towards uniforms, allowing pupils to explore and express their own gender identity by choosing whether to wear trousers or skirts. This is part of a move to combat homophobic, transphobic and biphobic bullying. Sadly, there are no similar figures for Scotland.

When the Isca Academy story broke, some here in Scotland suggested that if schoolboys up here wore kilts, few would even bat an eyelid. They may not, but I would suggest those saying that have never worn a kilt, or are at least forgetting a couple of things about them. For a start, kilts are not skirts; there is a distinction between the two. The modern small kilt, the philabeag, grew out of military wear (no, it was not invented by an English mill-owner – that is an anti-Scottish myth), and had drawstrings to form the pleats at the rear. It was itself adapted from the long plaid great kilt, the philamhor, which was a robe going back in antiquity to many other types of robes worn mainly by men.

But moreover, the kilt is a very heavy garment. A normal philabeag is 8 yards of heavy, tightly woven wool, which is wrapped around the body. Yes, it can be airy (particularly if a man wearing it is a “true scotsman”, if you get my meaning), but anyone who has ever worn a kilt, myslef included, will soon tell you just how warm it gets in the kilt. I most certainly would not have wanted to wear a kilt in the recent high temperatures, particularly as my family tartan, like most tartans, is dark and thereby draws the heat.

The light blue and black tartan (while are so many school skirts, even in England and the USA tartan?) of the Isca Academy uniform would not draw so much heat, and as the skirts are obviously made of much lighter material than a kilt, they seem to be the obvious answer for hot weather, for all genders.

Kinda cute skirts actually – I would wear one.

Xandra 100

100XandraHello Dears,

Well, a while since I’ve been in here.  Naughty Xandra!  I need a sound spanking (please).  But when I did log back in, imagine my surprise that I now have 100 followers.  You are all such darlings, and I am overwhelmed at having so many people following me.  I am truly touched (but we all knew that) and it will galvanise me to get back here and keep posting.

Meanwhile, a huge thank you to all my followers and hugs and kisses to each and every one of you.  I love you all.

Loves,

Xandra.  xxxx