Each month we round up dress code (and dress code-adjacent) stories that we’ve encountered, or that we’ve been thinking about. (Revisit back issues from AugustJulyJuneMay, and April.) Please send us suggestions!

We finally know what the October 22 Toronto municipal election will look like. (To wit: not good!) The TDSB trustees that are elected in three weeks will eventually be the ones voting on the Board’s revised Appropriate Dress policy (an update on the timeline of the revision concludes this post). We’ve reached out to every candidate we can find an email address for to ask them where they stand regarding a revised policy: check out the responses we’ve received so far. If your ward’s candidates haven’t written back to us yet, feel free to give them a nudge on our behalf!

The monstrosity that arose from Ontario’s last provincial election — you know, DoFo and co. — has opened consultations on education in Ontario. (Sort of — an online survey and telephone town hall are still pending.) Read about them at a link tagged “for-the-parents” — not for-the-students, say, or for-the-province, even…

September’s student actions in response to DoFo and co.’s attacks on education were galvanizing. As the days grow shorter and and the attacks continue, consider browsing the #WeTheStudentsDoNotConsent hashtag when you need a jolt of adrenaline.

We left the May 30 Governance and Policy Committee meeting with the understanding that a revised Appropriate Dress policy would be submitted by Board staff at the September 12 G+P meeting. Now we’re waiting for word on whether we should hope to see it at the November 7 G+P meeting.

But while the Appropriate Dress policy hasn’t yet changed, the Board’s expectations regarding school dress codes most definitely have. Those expectations are clearly described in a letter that was sent to all system leaders, including all principals, on August 30. (If you’d like us to help you track down a copy of this letter, get in touch.)

In short, the Board expects schools to align their dress codes with the newly revised Equity Policy (P037) — that means they must not use dress codes to target students based on race, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, ethno-cultural heritage, body size, or socioeconomic status. Principals have been explicitly instructed to “avoid rigid rules,” and to discard prohibitions that “perpetuate systems of racist, sexist or transphobic oppression.”

Again: these are not suggestions. These are expectations

If you are a teacher or a parent, ask the principal at your school or your child’s school how they are meeting these expectations. If you do not receive a satisfactory answer, the next step is to contact the school’s superintendent.

If you are a student, and you do not think that your school is meeting these expectations, consider asking a trusted staff ally to facilitate a conversation with your school principal. And if you are not satisfied by that conversation, contact your school’s superintendent.

If you are a student, a teacher, or a parent, and you’d like our support in doing this work, please do not hesitate to reach out. Thanks to students speaking up and organizing, and thanks to teachers and parents cultivating student voice and student power, we have won the strongest tool for combatting discriminatory dress codes that we have ever had. Now let’s use it!


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