The Current

Are school dress codes unfair to girls?

Conflicts over student dress codes have been cropping up in schools across Canada. Some institutions argue that revealing clothing is distracting, while many female students, and their parents, say that dress code enforcement ends up shaming girls....
Conflicts over student dress codes have been cropping up in schools across Canada. Some institutions argue that revealing clothing is distracting, while many female students, and their parents, say that dress code enforcement ends up shaming girls.
...It was one of the first hot days, and I decided to wear a pair of shorts that two VPs told me were unacceptable, and I was a little upset about that...Lindsey Stocker
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Last week officials at Beaconsfield High School in Quebec told 11th-grader, Lindsey Stocker, that her jean shorts were too short, and broke the school's dress code.

Ms. Stocker protested and posted fliers at her school reading: "Instead of shaming girls for their bodies, teach boys that girls are not sexual objects." Not long after, she was suspended for a day.

The situation is hardly unique. Last week, in Labrador City, 30 students, including two boys, were sent home for violating a high school dress code. Emily Connors was told to leave.


They just told us it was because of our bra straps and that it was inappropriate because some of the male teachers and male students found it distracting to them.Emily Connors

Emily's father, Gary, thinks the school's reasoning is flawed, and a deeper problem needs to be tackled.

I mean, as far as I'm concerned, what a woman wears doesn't give a guy a right to do anything to them, [or] say anything to them. If they can't control themselves, then there's something wrong with them, you know?Gary Connors

  • Tallie Doyle is a 14-year-old Ottawa student who had a run-in with authorities at Fisher Park Public School, because her bra straps were visible when she wore a top with spaghetti straps. Andrea Stokes is Tallie's mother. They were both in Ottawa.
  • Suanne Stein Day is the Chair of Montreal's Lester B. Pearson school board. We reached her in Montreal.
  • Rebecca Raby is an Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Studies at Brock University in St. Catherines. She's also the author of School Rules: Obedience, Discipline, and Elusive Democracy.

Do you think dress codes are unfairly targeting girls?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Marc Appolonio, Gord Westmacott and Pacinthe Mattar.

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