Hamilton school board trustees want to change the ‘sexist’ and ‘outdated’ student dress code

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Published October 14, 2021 at 4:21 pm

The student dress code enforced by the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) is being challenged by several trustees, who believe the current code perpetuates sexist and harmful notions and stigmatize one set of students over another.

The student dress code enforced by the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) is being challenged by several trustees, who believe the current code perpetuates sexist and harmful notions while stigmatizing one set of students over another.

The motion reads, “…our current policy singles out traditionally ‘feminine’ clothing, creates a double standard for one group, has the potential to be weaponized disproportionately, upholds sexist notions of modesty, and wastes staff resources in its implementation and enforcement…”

The motion also references “rape culture” across educational institutions.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that our policies do not place blame or undue responsibility on victims of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault…,” a reference to instances where the victim of a sexual assault is accused of “asking for it,” based on their choice of attire.

The trustees are encouraging the HWDSB to adopt new policies that are in line with those in Toronto. Its public school board revised its dress code in 2019, allowing students to expose shoulders, stomachs, midriff, necklines, and cleavage. Students may also expose legs, thighs and hips and wear any headwear that doesn’t obscure a student’s face.

The current HWDSB dress code bans clothing that reveals a student’s navel or the midriff. It also specifies that skirts and shorts “must be at least the length of the student’s fingertips when arms are fully extended down at one’s sides.”

The motion encourages a new inclusive dress code that reflects “individual expression of identity, socio-cultural norms, and considers economic factors.”

It will be introduced at the Oct. 18 board meeting.

 

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