EDMONTON — A rural school in Alberta is at the center of a dispute over dress codes after students posted mourning posters about whether short skirts and bare shoulders are too “distracting” for teens.
Breton High School Principal Lara Jollymore spoke to every class at the school grades 7-12 and sent an email to parents last week after a sign appeared in the girls’ bathroom saying staff he would embarrass female students when they enforced the dress code.
“When you interrupt a girl’s school day to force her to change her clothes, or send her home because her shorts are too short or her bra straps are visible, you are telling her that making sure kids have a safe environment ‘distraction-free’ learning is more important than your education,” according to an image of the sign obtained by Global News.
“Instead of shaming girls for their bodies, teach boys that girls are not sex objects!”
Wild Rose School Division Superintendent Brad Volkman said staff removed the sign within 30 minutes.
Within hours, another sign appeared in the bathroom that read:
“When you wear little or no clothing and dress provocatively because it’s ‘too hot outside’ or because you think it’s ‘attractive,’ you are putting kids at risk of having a distracting work environment and saying ‘Your clothes is more important than your education. .’ Instead of dressing like a THOT, value male education and dress conservatively.”
THOT is an acronym for “That Ho Over There.”
The second sign was also quickly removed, Volkman said.
None of the signs were written by staff, he said. The principal also told the students that while the dress code discussion is welcome, students need to be respectful and that name calling is inappropriate.
Volkman said he didn’t know what, if any, incidents prompted the students to put up the signs. The problem often arises in schools during the warmer months, he said. Breton’s classrooms do not have air conditioning.
The school is about 100 km southwest of Edmonton and has 125 students.
The school’s dress code was written many years ago, Volkman didn’t know how many, along with the student council at the time. The code says that navels, cleavage, undergarments, and bra straps must be covered. Skirts and shorts must be longer than arm length, and the inseam of shorts must be at least one hand length. Images and words on clothing must be “appropriate for a professional learning environment,” and hats are not allowed at school. Shoulder straps should also be “three fingers wide.”
Parent Sheila Thebeau, who has a son and a daughter in high school, said she wants students to follow the dress code. She doesn’t think students should be able to wear whatever they want.
“That’s not fair, because the boys’ hormones are skyrocketing. It’s hard enough for them to behave,” Thebeau said.
The student council and parent advisory council will likely revise the dress code, Volkman said.