Cheltenham Secondary College in Melbourne’s bayside has sparked controversy within its community by incorporating the Aboriginal and pride flags into its new puffer jacket as a permanent feature of the uniform.
Concerned parents expressed disappointment at the lack of consultation regarding the design, deeming it an unnecessary political statement.
One parent, who preferred to remain anonymous, described the move as mere "virtue signaling" within the school environment.
"It's a school, not a platform for political statements. Let the kids focus on being kids," she stated.
Although initially interested in purchasing the jacket for her son, she abandoned the idea after he and his friends refused to wear it.
Gail McHardy, the CEO of Parents Victoria, emphasised the 'importance of inclusivity,' acknowledging that there would be parents who supported the design.
The school defended its decision, stating that the puffer jacket was an optional addition, created in response to feedback from parents and students obtained through a uniform survey last year.
Priced at $89.95, the jacket also features the school motto: Respect, responsibility, personal best, community.
Responding to the criticism on Facebook, Cheltenham Secondary College clarified that the puffer jacket was not intended to replace the school's windcheater, which does not bear the flags and remains part of the college uniform.
A Department of Education spokesperson reiterated that school uniform policies are determined by school councils and confirmed that the jacket was not compulsory.
Despite the controversy, the college expressed pride in being a 'safe and welcoming' school.
It remains to be seen how this issue will be resolved, with some parents advocating for more open discussions regarding uniform design changes to prevent further discord within the community.