Last May, 12-year-old Chris Whitehead came up with a creative way to protest his school’s dress code. The British student objected to being barred from wearing shorts on hot days. He studied the uniform policy and found a loophole: skirts were allowed.
“In the summer girl students are allowed to wear skirts but boys are not allowed to wear shorts,” Whitehead explained. “We think that this discriminates against boys. I will march in a skirt with other boys waving banners and making a lot of noise.”
The boy donned his sister’s skirt, created banners and enlisted friends to demonstrate at Impington Village College near Cambridge. The protest led the school to review its uniform policy. Instead of landing in a heap of trouble, he was praised for embodying much of what the school tries to teach about independent thought and personal action.
Six months later, Whitehead was shortlisted for the Human Rights Young Person of the Year award at the Liberty Human Rights Awards. Interviewed by the Cambridge News, Whitehead said, “I am sure there will be other people there who are also very worthy of awards and I am looking forward to meeting them.”
The other three candidates were an impressive lot:
Cerie Bullivant, for campaigning against control orders and the proposed Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill; activist, journalist and campaigner Zin Derfoufi; and Abigail Stepnitz, national co-ordinator for the Poppy Project, for standing up for the rights of trafficked women.
Bullivant won the award, but Chris Whitehead was still a winner. He demonstrated backbone and creativity in addressing an issue peacefully. That bodes well for the contribution he will make to the world.
Photo from pinkladybug via morgueFile