School Uniforms in Italy

In Italy, school uniforms are uncommon, partially because child uniforms are associated with the era of Benito Mussolini before World War II when children were placed according to their age into Italian Fascist youth movements and had to wear uniforms inside and outside school.

However, until the early 1960s many high schools required girls to wear black grembiule (resembling a doctor smock) on top of their clothes: no uniform was required for boys. Perhaps this was because at one time high schools were the only public schools to admit both sexes (as opposed to junior schools and elementary), and girls may be required to "cover up" not to distract their male counterparts. Indeed, this policy was highly disputed during the sexual revolution of the 1960s and later abolished.

Nowadays, many pre-schools advise parents to dress their children with a grembiulino, i.e., a small grembiule, usually shorter and more colourful, that can be purchased cheaply.

Some elementary schools advise some kind of grembiule for the younger pupils. Sometimes girls are required to wear a pink or white grembiulino, while boys may be required to wear a short cotton jacket, usually blue or black. In other cases both boys and girls may be required to wear a more neutral blue grembiule.

Some parents send their children to school in a grembiule even if the school does not require it.

Poet and children's writer Gianni Rodari has described adult life as "a school without grembiule and school desk".

In 2004 the Italian chapter of WWF warned that synthetic grembiuli were harmful to pupils.

In July 2008 Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini proposed the re-introduction of the compulsory smock in public schools, provoking a debate in the Italian press.

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