First of all, I think it's amazing that you're really considering this question, especially at such a young age. It took me a year of being a vegan to understand why I shouldn't be using leather, especially since everyone around me was using it. It's definitely a challenge since you're at a private school with a uniform, but it is certainly possible to do something about this. You have the right to express your concerns with the head of your school and explain that wearing leather shoes is not inline with your beliefs or ethics. Though I'm not positive, I don't think that they can kick you out of school if you don't wear them. I think that if you were to speak with someone directly, and/or write a letter to convey your stand, and provide vegan alternatives to the shoes, then they would be willing to reconsider. Be kind and open with the way you phrase it, but stand firm - don't let them dismiss it easily (or at all). If you give this your all then you are not a hypocrite, no matter what the outcome. Unfortunately we do not live in a vegan world, so we just have to do our best and stand up for our beliefs.
Here are some vegan versions of Sperry Topsiders/moccasins:
You might even be able to get away with vegan loafers, if the school is OK with that alternative. Do a web search and you'll find tons of options.
I also reached out to my Facebook community to find out their perspectives, and here are some words of advice from them:
- Discuss with the school your values and that you want to work with them to find a shoe that is non leather but meets their dress code, but will not wear their shoes.
- I think she should let the school know that it is against her ethics to wear the shoes and ask if she can wear similar vegan shoes. if they let her great, and if not, she then has to make the choice to challenge the school or to let it go.
- It is a good opportunity to make a stand and gain one's confience in the ability to bend the perceived rules of created culture.
- I'd start with a polite letter to the Board of Directors and maybe cc a local newspaper or two. The letter should present several option that would not cost the school any time money or resources, but also resolve the issue at hand for the person writing the letter. By cc'ing the a news paper it kind of forces the school to give a timely answer. Just make sure the school knows that a copy went to the paper; they don't like surprises.
- I believe it is not asking a lot to approach the administration and state that she lives a vegan lifestyle and would like to find a vegan shoe alternative, what a great educational/sharing experience for others, and if they do not understand, well, quite frankly, she is paying a lot of money to be in the wrong place if an educational setting does not foster tolerance, it's not worth it
Good luck and let us know how it goes!