For the last couple months, Emma Heyburn and her friends at Lethbridge Collegiate Institute have been hearing rumours about a warmer weather dress code. Heyburn says she approached staff with her concerns and was told not to worry about any new rules. Shortly after, signs went up in the school with a dress code stricter than she had imagined.
“I felt like they hadn’t held true to what they had said and I didn’t know really what to do,” Heyburn said. “I was a little confused on the dress code because there was a difference between the handbook and what had been posted around the school.”
The poster includes a paragraph from the handbook which is enforced throughout School District 51. It says clothing which is overly revealing or displays unacceptable language or images are considered inappropriate.
LCI staff added bullet points to the bottom of the poster, stating students should not wear short shorts, tank tops, strapless shirts or shirts with spaghetti straps. It also notes that underwear (including bras) should not be visible.
But students say the rules are still unclear, because teachers have ultimate discretion over what’s considered appropriate.
Others feel that any discretion over dress code is unfair.
“It’s like pressuring us, saying that we’re not as mature as we actually are,” Grade 10 student Mackenzie Sokolowski said.
The school’s vice-principal, Trish Syme, says the wording on the posters is being misinterpreted and shouldn’t have been posted. She blames it on miscommunication.
“Definitely was supposed to have been cleared up and it wasn’t… there was a breakdown in communication obviously,” Syme said.
Syme says the added bullet points will not be enforced. She says the school deals with student dress on a case-by-case basis, but says her staff is willing to sit down with students and update the rules.
“It’s very important that they know they do have a voice and I would love to sit down with students and talk about the dress code,” she said.
Heyburn says she is willing to participate, but the girls still plan on holding a protest on Friday where they’ll all wear white T-shirts that read: “A woman is more than her body.”
“That was chosen because the students at LCI who are called the majority of the time on how they are dressed is the female students,” Heyburn said.