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?
Schools are places where educators and staff should focus on children/youth’s learning and not on their appearance. In my view, there is no need for dress codes at all.
While I am pleased that the TDSB has just recently advised that they will revise their policy thanks to the work of organizations like End Dress Codes, I hope that they will continue to listen to student voices once the revised policy is issued.
As a Trustee, I would oppose dress codes in principle as the policy and the practice of enforcing dress codes has targeted certain groups and made them vulnerable to scrutiny, discipline, shaming and humiliation. A dress code that has the adverse effect of singling out protected groups under the Ontario Human Rights Code can be challenged as discriminatory – for example, as a form of gender or racial or cultural policing. If we tell a girl, for example, that her dress is too short we are 1) singling out girls and 2) imposing notions of modesty rooted in patriarchal control of female bodies.
As a college educator of recent high school graduates, I would never dream of policing my students’ appearance. Why do we think we need to do in elementary, middle or high school? A t-shirt with a hateful slogan, for example, can easily be addressed as hate speech rather than needing a dress code.
If there are dress codes, the focus should be exceedingly narrow, for example, on safety or comfort in a specific area (eg., for physical education class, “loose or stretchy clothing for ease of movement” or for shop class, “no jewellery that could get entangled in machinery”).