Do you support revising TDSB Policy P042 (Appropriate Dress) so that it aligns with equity and human rights, and so that it incorporates greater opportunity for student voice in dress code development, review, and revision?
A lot of dress codes target female-identifying students, and the rationale is that these students need to avoid dressing in a way that would be distracting to male-identifying classmates, and worse, teachers. The notion that girls should base their wardrobe decisions on the possibility that someone might become sexually aroused is outdated and sexist. And the notion that boys and grown men are not capable of “controlling themselves” is downright insulting.
While it is true that students like to use their clothing as a means of self-expression, what they really want is to be comfortable. They wear spaghetti straps because they have to endure heat waves in rooms with no air conditioning and poor ventilation. They wear leggings because they want to be able to move freely and sit comfortably.
Much is made of how short shorts and dresses can be, but these limitations are not always feasible. I read one story of a girl who was sent home for violating a dress code because the tips of her fingers fell below the hem of her shorts. But this girl had long arms, and it was not possible for her to find shorts that would conform to the rules. A little girl in Kindergarten was made to put an oversized T-shirt on over her dress because it had shoulder straps but no sleeves. It was a sweltering hot day, and yet this little girl was made to believe that her clothing was somehow sexualized.
I believe that the following should happen:
1) Any dress codes that are in place should be gender-neutral, they should apply equally to boys and boys, and they should also apply to teachers and other school staff.
2) Students should be consulted in the development of school dress codes. They need to give voice to their concerns and opinions.
3) Dress codes should be guidelines, they should not be definitive rules. Teachers and principals should have the discretion to use good old-fashioned common sense.
In short, I am most certainly in favour of revising the TDSB policy to bring it into alignment with the principles of human rights and equity. I am also in favour of giving the students a voice in the development of dress codes.
Thank you for reaching out to trustee candidates for our opinions. I hope my answers have been helpful to you.
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