The Greater Victoria School District is considering doing away with dress codes entirely amid criticism that such policies unfairly affect female students.
Each school in the district currently has its own rules governing what kids can and can’t wear to classes, including strap sizes on shoulders and the length of students’ shorts and skirts.
But now SD61 is recommending that all schools remove those rules from their codes of conduct, banning only items of clothing with offensive language or images.
Some school trustees say the current policies are outdated because they target girls more often than boys, discouraging them from “distracting” male students with their clothing.
“Girls are overwhelmingly the target of dress code enforcement,” said trustee Jordan Watters. “I don’t think a girl should have to leave a classroom or have to have interruptions in her day so to avoid distracting a boy and his leanring.”
Other trustees have differing opinions about whether or not the overhaul is necessary.
“[The rules] are kind of outdated. They probably need a revision at the very least, but this would eradicate any statement at all, any standard, any parameters on dress,” said trustee Deborah Nohr. “I would say that the acceptable ways of dress would include, for both male and female students, not exposing their chest, not exposing their gluteus maximus, not exposing their gluteus fold and genitals as well.”
Female students who spoke with CTV News Wednesday said the onus has been on girls more than boys for too long.
“Once a male teacher came up to me and was like ‘You need to go put a shirt on because your shoulders are showing and it’s not okay for school,’ and he took me out of class to tell me that and made me go change,” one Grade 10 student told CTV News. “There was a boy in my gym class who wore a tank top that was a muscle shirt, and I was wearing a similar thing, and he didn’t get talked to.”
“My shoulders aren’t really something to be sexualized,” another girl said. “They should be taking more time to speak to the boys in the schools so that they don’t sexualize the female’s body.”
Trustees will vote on scrapping the dress code at a meeting on Sept. 25.
With a report from CTV Vancouver Island's Louise Hartland