June 5, 2017 2:05 pm
Updated: June 6, 2017 10:33 am

Note telling girls to ‘dress conservatively’ in school to avoid distracting boys sparks concern in Alberta village

WATCH ABOVE: Two posters at an Alberta school are sparking debate about dress code, but it goes deeper than that. As Quinn Oher explains, it raises questions about whether or not clothing should be a distraction.

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A note telling girls to dress conservatively to avoid distracting boys at school is sparking conversation in a small central Alberta community.

The note was posted in the hallways of Breton High School in Breton, Alta., a village of about 600 people 90 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.

It reads:

 When you wear little to no clothing and dress provocatively because it’s “too hot out” or because you think it’s “attractive,” you are putting boys at risk of having a distracting working environment and saying, “your clothing is more important than their education.” Instead of dressing like a THOT, value the male education and dress conservatively.

THOT is a slang acronym that, according to the Urban Dictionary, stands for “that ho (whore) over there.”

WATCH: Prom dress posters tell students only ‘good girls’ will get to go to prom

A parent told Global News the note was written by two male students in response to another note posted on a bathroom mirror, which was captured in a Snapchat post. It reads:

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 too visible, you are telling her that making sure boys have a “distraction free” environment is more important than her education. Instead of shaming girls for their bodies teach boys that girls are not sexual objects.

Girls from the school said they were shocked when they saw the posters.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Grade 9 student Julie Steeves said. “Lots of girls were really disgusted, sad and mad about this.”

Breton High School principal Lara Jollymore confirmed the authenticity of the memos in a letter sent home to parents.

“The conversation that is happening is around the dress code,” Jollymore wrote.

WATCH: Calgary students claim high school dress code applied unfairly to girls


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“There are some female students who have posted their opinions about how they feel that they should be able to wear whatever clothes they wish at school, because they have the right to, and that ladies should not be objectified by gentlemen because it is wrong. The gentlemen have responded by posting their opinions about how the school is a professional learning environment, and that ladies should respect that by wearing clothes that meet the dress code, and do not distract them, because even though it is not appropriate for gentlemen to objectify ladies, when ladies wear extremely provocative clothing, they can be distracted.

“Of course, this is a paraphrase of the conversation going on in the school.”

Jollymore said the use of an “inappropriate acronym” in the boys’ post is “being addressed” and students are being reminded to be respectful when expressing their opinions.

“The school is a safe environment for students to voice their opinions, experience debate and to deal with controversial issues,” she wrote. “The school is a proper environment for students to speak freely, in a respectful manner.”

“We are not stifling respectful dialogue on this matter.”

Jollymore addressed rumours she had heard, saying, “the opinions expressed are solely those of students, staff were not involved in these opinions at all.”

The note also said that the school will continue to enforce the dress code.

Parents Global News spoke with said they have no issue with the dress code itself.

“I wish the dress code issue was just a dress code issue,” said Jennifer Shave.”It’s a simple thing. We need to remove the emotion from it.”

Shave said she has instructed her daughter to contact the school’s office with any concerns she has about the words that other students are using and she hopes others will do the same.

The principal said the school will continue to enforce the dress code, which is listed in its 2016-2017 student handbook:

  • All shorts/skirts must exceed the length of arms/fingers and the in­seam to shorts must be the minimum of one hand length
  • Straps for shirts must be three fingers wide for males and females, and bra straps must be covered
  • All navels must be covered
  • Cleavage must be covered
  • Pants/Shorts must be pulled up so that boxers/briefs are not exposed
  • Images/words on tops/bottoms must be appropriate for a professional learning environment
  • Hats are not permitted on either gender in school unless it is a designated “School Hat Day”

The handbook said any students not following the dress code would be required to change their clothing or be sent home. It said the policy is applicable to all school events, including regular school time, extracurricular activities, school dances, field trips, etc. The handbook said the dress code was developed a number of years ago by the students’ union.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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