Saskatchewan·Feature

School uniforms solve dress code issues, some parents say

As many parents enter the debate over what is appropriate clothing for the classroom, some are suggesting that school uniforms be considered.

Conversations about clothing are important, education professor notes

Brenda-Jayne Splett holds up some of the uniforms her three boys wore while the family lived in Peru. They returned to Regina three years ago. (Tory Gillis/CBC)

As many parents of school-aged children enter the debate over what is appropriate clothing for the classroom, some are suggesting that school uniforms be considered. 

Brenda-Jayne Splett is a mother of three boys in Regina. She said choosing an outfit was simple when the family lived in Peru, where school uniforms were mandatory.

"There was no debate [about] 'What are we wearing today?'" Splett said. "And there's less discussion about who's wearing what at school. And there's less cliques and the morning routine was silky smooth. The biggest decision was pants or shorts, long sleeves or short sleeves. That's it."

Splett said she would like to see uniforms in Regina schools, but understands that some parents would be reluctant.

In Saskatoon, parent Shelley Barker said her youngsters wore uniforms when the family lived in Australia. Now, she said, the question of what to wear is a challenge.

"Now that my daughter is 12, it is getting more and more difficult, what she can wear and can't wear," Barker said. "I'm looking at what she's wearing today and she wouldn't be allowed to wear that shirt at high school, and it's just a tank top."

Discuss the culture of clothes, professor says

Michael Capello, a University of Regina education professor, says there is an important conversation to be had when it comes to culture and clothing.

"When we just default to the school uniform conversation, we miss out on an opportunity to really engage a problematic culture that does affect our girls in school, that does affect our boys in school," Capello said. "Sometimes we get caught up in the uniform issue as if that was a silver bullet and it masks other things that are going on. It makes it impossible to talk about other things."

Capello said the issue also relates to gender.

"I'm interested in especially the way this gets taken up for young girls. And the way we need to — especially need to — police them, as if they're causing a distraction in school," he said.  "We need to have that conversation more than we need to have the conversation about uniforms."

Codes are hard to follow

Shelley Barker's children on their first day of school in Australia in 2008. The family lives in Saskatoon now (CBC)
In Saskatoon, Barker said the school's dress code can lead to issues for youngsters who are being told to wear clothes, such as skirts, according to a formula relating to the length of their arms.

"My daughter has quite long arms and her school is fingertip [length for skirts]," Barker said, explaining how a skirt could be no shorter than the length of the child's arms at the sides, measured to the fingertips. "Her arms are quite long so what goes to the bottom of her fingertip is different than a girl with shorter arms. So that makes it even more difficult."

Barker added that finding clothes for her daughter is difficult because the sizes that fit are often in styles that are meant for older teens.

"My daughter needs summer shorts and she's now too big for the children's clothing and what there is for girls her age is completely inappropriate for school," she said. "So she can only wear capris or pants. There's no shorts that would work for her."

There are just two schools in Regina where uniforms are the norm, Mother Teresa Middle School and the Huda School.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now