Dress code debate needs broader input, says school councils federation
The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils is supporting students at a junior high school who are protesting over the enforcement of a dress code, and is calling for a broader debate in order resolve the issue once and for all.
Some students at Beaconsfield in St. John's say their dress code is sexist and unfair, and this week many were actively protesting and defying the policy.
In a news release on Thursday, federation president Peter Whittle applauded the young women for protesting what they felt was an unfair policy.
"I congratulate the young women for standing up for what they consider are their rights," he wrote.
"Schools need to be democratic about dress codes. Teachers, parents and students need to be involved in issues that are important to their school communities."
The issue with Beaconsfield is not the first time the dress code issue has been raised in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Last year, about 30 students at Menihek High School in Labrador City were sent home because of attire deemed to have violated the school's dress code — including wearing sleeveless shirts and having bra straps exposed.
Peter Whittle said it's time to put the issue to bed, and to make the rules and expectations clear so the controversy does not arise every spring when the weather gets warmer.
"The dress code debate has been around for decades," wrote Whittle.
"It would be ideal if parents, administrators, teachers and students could discuss the dress code expectation at the school or district level, be part of drafting the dress code policy and have parents and students sign the new rules they create."
Calls school district process 'undemocratic'
Whittle said the school board needs to take the lead on the whole debate, but he thinks there is a flaw with how the board goes about addressing these sort of problems.
"In this province our sole English School Board is run like the Commission of Government was in the 1930s," he said in the statement.
"It isn't democratic, there is no accountability and we have no idea when the next school board trustee elections will be held.
"Who is accountable for important decisions like dress codes? Who can our students appeal to when trying to resolve issues that are important to them?"