Tl;dr: A draft of a revised Student Dress Code Policy is open to public consultation. Please spread the word, and please take part. We suggest focusing on the following:
✔︎ It’s awesome that the Board is doing this work.
✔︎ It’s awesome that gang attire is no longer mentioned — that’s one less excuse to racially profile.
✘ It’s awful that students are expected to cover their “chests” with opaque fabric — dress coding re: cleavage will continue apace.
✘ It’s a shame that the draft remains difficult to read.
The TDSB has posted a draft of a revised Student Dress Code Policy for public consultation.
We are thrilled that the process has come this far. And we want to be thrilled by the draft policy. But we’re not quite there yet.
On November 8, an earlier version of the draft was presented to the Governance and Policy Committee. The Committee instructed Board staff to make further revisions based on the discussion that ensued. The way we read it, the draft that has been posted for consultation doesn’t entirely follow through on that instruction.
Board staff were instructed to…
Excise the discussion of gang attire.
✔︎ The draft no longer mentions gang attire. This is a massive improvement; this is a huge win for students of colour, especially Black students. Prohibitions on gang attire currently provide justification for racial profiling in TDSB schools. Such prohibitions cannot be aligned with the Board’s commitments to equity.
More clearly spell out expectations regarding headwear.
✔︎ / ✘ The draft now states twice, rather than once, that headwear may be worn. But both references to headwear take the form of parenthetical remarks. We still think the policy on headwear could be — and should be — clearer.
Stipulate that “nipples,” rather than “breasts,” must be covered by opaque fabric.
✘ The latest draft changes “breasts” to “nipples and chest.” Unlike “breasts,” “chest” is gender-neutral. But exactly like a demand that “breasts” be covered by opaque fabric, the demand that “chests” be covered by opaque fabric will facilitate the continued monitoring of students’ cleavage by school staff. This is unacceptable. And at this point, it’s frustrating — it really feels like someone, somewhere, is deeply reluctant to give up the power to comment on students’ décolletage…
Make clear that the revised policy will be the dress code for every school in the system.
✘ The draft states that “This Policy establishes the student dress code for all schools.” But the stipulation that “Any restrictions to the way a student dresses must conform to the TDSB Student Dress Standards” suggests that schools might continue to draw up their own lists of restrictions within the framework of the Board policy. And if this policy will be the final word on dress in the TDSB, why all the references to student voice? Maybe we’re just obtuse, but we think the fact that the new policy puts an end to school-based codes remains obscure.
Simplify the language of the revised policy.
✘ The draft remains inaccessible. It should be — and can be — translated into plain language.
We remain hopeful that at the end of this process, the Board will adopt a Dress Code Policy that unambiguously promotes equity. In order for that to happen, you need to consult with them!
Click the link and fill out the survey as soon as possible, and then spread the word as wide as possible. Tell your social networks what you told the Board, and share End Dress Codes’ Twitter / FB / Insta posts.
A revised Dress Code Policy is up for consultation because students have spent years upon years engaging in creative, courageous, effective activism. Take this opportunity to contribute to their work!
The timeline so far:
PHASE I: COMPLETE!
PHASE II: IT’S ON
PHASE II: STILL GOING…
PHASE III: Internal Consultations (no blog post)
PHASE IV: CONSULTATIONS ARE OPEN!