School trustees with the Edmonton Public School Board unanimously passed a motion Tuesday night that stipulates school dress codes should not be gender specific.
The motion was brought forward by Bridget Stirling, a trustee, who told Global News the No. 1 complaint she receives from parents relates to dress codes.
“Maybe a school might decide they don’t want to have bare shoulders or there should be rules about low-rise pants, so we want to make sure those are applied fairly between students regardless of their gender,” she said on Tuesday.
After the motion was approved, the board chair of Edmonton Public Schools told Global News she believes it’s an important step to take.
“It’s really important that our students feel welcome, safe and secure in our school buildings,” Michelle Draper said. “I know wearing what you choose to wear in the morning is some self-expression, you’re wanting to come to school and have a great day, and what we want to do is make sure that everyone as part of the school community understands that the dress code needs to reflect the diversity of our students and needs to be enforced in an equitable way.
“For example, you’re not going to be penalized for the length of your skirt any more than you would for the length of your shorts or pants.”
The motion calls for district schools to communicate and enforce their dress code policies and to make sure “education and information about and enforcement of dress codes will not target students based on race, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, cultural observance, socioeconomic status or body type and size.”
“It really is an overarching philosophy — principles which to adhere to, so that schools can work with their students, parents, family members, staff, to put together their own dress code policy because we do have site-based decision-making,” Draper said.
The motion was carried unanimously on Tuesday night.