Jo Swinson's passionate response to caller who criticised boys wearing skirts

6 December 2019, 10:13

This is Jo Swinson's passionate response to a caller who criticised the Liberal Democrats for saying they would allow schoolboys to wear skirts.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto says they would require inclusive school uniform policies that are gender-neutral and challenge gender stereotyping within schools.

But Karen called up furious that Ms Swinson was happy for boys to wear skirts.

Speaking on the Lib Dem leader's phone-in on LBC, Karen said: "What is it with you and your party putting forward this gender-neutral, boys can go to schools wearing skirts? Why do you think that's acceptable?

"We live in a free society right now. But what is going on with it? Do you think it's right you're allowing this to go through?"

Ms Swinson argued: "It's really about giving kids choice.

"What it came out of was we had a young member of the Lib Dems who came along to our conference - she was 14 at the time. She made the very good point that she was frustrated that she had to wear a skirt when she wanted to run around and play football and do handstands and all of those things that we'd all want our kids to have the freedom to do.

"Why should we be saying to girls or boys at school they have to wear this particular outfit."

Nick asked if she'd be happy for her son to wear a dress to school and Ms Swinson responded: "If they wanted to, then yes.

"My five-year-old has silver sparkly shoes. I might have technically bought them in the 'girls' section, but he really wanted the silver sparkly shoes, so he's got silver trainers. The sky is still there."

Jo Swinson got very passionate about gender-neutral uniforms
Jo Swinson got very passionate about gender-neutral uniforms. Picture: PA / LBC

There followed a fiery debate about gender-neutral passports and whether people needed to have gender assigned on official ID.

And the Lib Dem leader gave a very powerful response when pushed by Nick.

She said: "There's a hang-up that people have about this. Some people don't identify as male or female. It's not a massive deal. It's not stopping anyone else getting on with their lives.

"Can we just be respectful to one another and treat people as the individuals that they are, recognising that this group of people in our society already feels vulnerable and marginalised, already feels discriminated against and feels bullied and can be victims of violence.

"Let's do these small things that show we are taking people seriously as the individuals that they are."