"school uniforms reduce/increase equality"
Some suggest that equality - as imposed by school uniforms - reduced peer pressure, which in turn reduced bullying, discrimination, violence and crime. But at closer look, school uniforms may reduce some kind of peer pressure, but they increase other types of peer pressure between students. Overall, there is little or no evidence in research to support a reduction in discrimination, bullying, violence or crime, as a result of introducing school uniforms. More generally, these are all separate arguments that are each examined in more detail elsewhere at this site.
However, the prior question is whether equality was an acceptable argument in the first place. What's wrong with diversity and individuality? School uniforms may indeed impose some sense of equality upon students, but whether this was desirable is a matter of politics. It's inappropriate for a public school to impose one specific political view, while silencing the opposite view.
A political opinion does not count as an argument, as its weight is cancelled out by the opposite political view.
The very act of presenting a political view as an argument, constitutes a lack of respect not only towards the opposite view, but more generally to the principles of democracy and the rights of the individual that should be upheld and taught at school.
Mandatory school uniforms at public schools are prone to violate inalienable rights, including freedom of expression and the prior right for families to decide how their children are to be educated.
"If children wear uniforms, they do not notice differences between children from rich and from poor families." [source]
"School uniforms equalize economic diversity and reduce social stigma." [source]
"In a democratic country, school should not indoctrinate children with a specific political ideology, especially not a government-funded school." [source]
"School uniforms may make all students look alike. But why do the teachers not wear the same uniforms? Clearly, school does not like any confusion as to who is the teacher and who is the student. The master-slave relationship that is so obviously present at school is deliberately magnified by uniforms that emphasize this difference. The teacher is allowed to dress casually, while the student has to wear silly clothes intended to make the student look stupid." [source]
"Furthermore, there are often different uniforms for those in higher grades than for those in lower grades, just like in the military a superior officer wears a less silly hat. This creates class differences. Some will argue that this merely reflects existing differences. But the point is that if this were accurate, it constituted an argument against uniformity. Moreover, school itself creates class differences. Class is a trademark, if not an invention of school. Children are grouped together in classes according to age and often according to gender and to perceived academic performance. Because parents want their children to mix with children of their 'own class', they carefully select the neighborhood where they are going to live. Houses close to private schools are often substantially more expensive than similar houses close to state schools." [source]
"School uniforms emphasize economic differences. The habit of wearing school uniforms originated at rich schools, with the intention to distinguish their students from others students, i.e. from other (poorer) schools. Uniforms were first introduced by rich schools, who liked to parade their students in uniform, to show off that these were students from rich families, proud to be rich! Typically, a school serves a specific area and the difference in wealth between families that live within the area is not that much. By comparison, there's much more difference in wealth between families that live in a poor area and those living in a more wealthy area. The students who attend the school in the wealthy area will wear different uniforms than students who attend the school in a poor area." [source]
"The poor kids still wear the threadbare, worn, cheaper quality uniforms with the generic, cheap sneakers or shoes, while the wealthier kids wear the namebrand, quality uniforms with the namebrand sneakers/shoes." [source]
"Uniforms express who is the master and who is the servant. For centuries, uniforms have been used in the UK to define and maintain class. A visitor can easily distinguish who are the servants - waiters, maids, cleaners, chaufeurs, cooks, they are all put in uniforms to express their position of servitude. Servants are waiting to receive orders, from their superiors, who are dressed casually. The upper class speaks only to members of their class, and hands out favors to members of their class, in an open conspiracy to keep the lower class servile. Typically, uniforms were the same for all people within a particular trade, i.e. butlers would all dress the same, wherever they served.
In schools in the UK, uniforms are common at private schools, typically boarding schools. In line with the above, uniforms are part here of a ranking system, indicating different classes. Students wear specific uniforms, while teachers (in their superior position) dress in yet another uniform, complete with cape, hat and stick. Also, different uniforms can be used for senior and junior students. To a large extent, such schools are closed off from the outer world, not only to keep the students captive, but also to avoid that outsiders would exploit the servile position in the students are forced into. If the students return home for holidays, they will be careful not to wear their school uniform at home, since that would identify them as one of the servants. After all, at home, the boys are addressed at home by servants as "Master". Thus, uniforms symbolize the violence and violation of people's rights that is inherent in the class system.
Uniforms have another tradition - they can be used to distinguish friends from the enemy (i.e. those wearing the same, respectively a different uniform). The obvious example is soldiers from different sides wearing different uniforms. Note that the uniform not only serves to prevent friendly fire, there is an even more sinister purpose - uniforms make it hard for soldiers to desert, run away or change sides. Those who do defect, typically face the death penalty, an even harsher fate than preserved for enemy soldiers, who are merely taken prisoner, held captive and who are exchanged, or set free after the hostilities are over. The uniform acts as a strait-jacket, meant to mould the person who wears it and meant to kill any 'free' spirit that dares to speak out against oppression. This can result in schools openly condoning bullying against students who dislike uniforms. In fact, the sheer use of uniforms in schools is unacceptable, not merely because it constitues a suppression of individuality, but because it seeks to victimise anyone who doesn't comply, as becomes evident in the frequent parading, uniform checks and inspections, etc.
Uniforms are also used to distinguish students from one private school from students from another private school, e.g. in sport where students from one school are set up to fight against students of another school. Interestingly, students from public schools rarely play a role in such games. They were seen as too poor to buy uniforms in the first place, while they weren't allowed to participate in such games anyway. Uniforms stand for elitism, both in the sense of class and religion. Uniforms are predominant at religious private schools that seek to make it look as if it was a privilege to belong to their community.
In nazi Germany, uniforms were used for the purpose of setting up people against each other. This use of uniforms was not restricted to the German army and the Hitler Youth. The nazis also forced minorities to wear stars (different colors for different group), with the aim of making them look as if they were public enemies. In this case, religion was also a contributing factor, setting up Christians against Jews, gay people, Gypsies, etc.
Uniforms are inherently confrontational, moreover, they are symbols of violence! Sport clubs and street gangs use colors to set up people from one area against people from another area. This can lead to violence between people from different neighborhoods, typically coinciding with sport events that put teams of one area against the other. Normally, people will act friendly towards each other, but if there is a sport event in which the two neighborhoods are facing each other, they suddenly dress in their colors and become violent.
Thus, violence and uniforms go hand in hand, not just in the sense of physical violence as in wars, but also in "peaceful" confrontations such as sport, and as becomes manifest in the master-slave relationship that uniforms invoke. Furthermore, uniforms make the wearer prone to hide behind a group. Dressed up in uniforms, kids all wear the same clothes, which makes them believe they were less easily identifiable individually. Normally, if the culprits of attacks are identified, the clothes they wear play a major role in tracing back to what extent each individual participated. If they're all in uniform, that become a lot more difficult - the culprits know this and act accordingly.
In the US, uniforms emphasize ethnic differences, because they prevent students from chosing clothes that would take away the attention from ethnic features such as the color of their skin. In the absence of the class differences of the UK and the patriotic use of uniforms in continetal Europe, u niformity in clothing in the US goes hand in hand with gang behavior, specifically ethnic gangs; what is sacred for most gangs is their patches and their colors and stripes; ridicule them and the gang will respond violently. Schools that put their students into uniforms glorify that kind of mentality.
In conclusion, uniforms do not stand for equality, instead they in many ways stand for elitism, privilege, class differences, discrimination and suppression." [source]