School board won’t stop transgender Oakville teacher from wearing provocative clothing


Published November 9, 2022 at 1:50 pm

The teacher at the centre of controversy at an Oakville high school.

An Oakville high school teacher, whose provocative clothing garnered attention from around the world, will be able to stay on the job and not have to conform to a dress code.

The news comes as the Halton District School Board (HDSB) issued a report that recommends against adopting a system-wide dress code over fears of legal implications and human rights violations. The report will be presented to the full board at a meeting tonight (Nov. 9)

Board officials have been investigating the issue since Oakville Trafalgar High School teacher Kayla Lemieux sparked debate and protests over what teachers can wear in the classroom.

Photos of Lemieux, who is transgender, have appeared online and were covered extensively by international media in September. The photos showed her wearing oversized prosthetic breasts and tight tops.

Back then, the board considered the dress code, but now is backing away.

“It is important to recognize the impact that dress code policies can have on members of the transgender community,” states the report. “Most notably, it is important for employers to make allowances to ensure that these employees are able to express themselves in accordance with their lived gender.”

Even though Lemieux is a shop teacher and works with industrial machinery, board staff believes a dress code is even inappropriate from a labour and employment law standpoint and that imposing one would expose the board to “considerable liability.”

“Finally, and most importantly, we note that if the employer desires to foster a culture of professionalism, respect, equity and inclusion, a truly reasonable and non-discriminatory dress code or grooming standards would most likely fail to yield the intended results,” the report concludes.

As well, the board believes its hands are tied in the matter because their collective agreement with teachers expired in August, and a new deal has yet to be reached.

It notes that the Ontario Labour Relations Act imposes a “statutory freeze” during this period when there is no governing collective agreement, which prohibits employers from altering working conditions during negotiations.

“As a result, the HDSB is not in a position to impose a staff dress code during bargaining, but is not restricted from considering dress codes in general,” it said.

insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising