A copy of HSS’s new dress code (Facebook photo)

B.C. mom upset by dress code’s disproportionate targeting of girls

Mother of Grade 10 student also not happy about northwestern school district’s lack of consultation

A new dress code at a high school in northwest B.C. has irked a few parents for its guidelines for girls.

Anissa Watson is a mother of four, with one of her daughters in Grade 10 at Hazelton Secondary School, near Smithers.

She said her daughter recently brought home the district’s revised dress code.

“She said, ‘Mom, look at this,’” Watson said. “It was mostly images of women’s bodies and with lines pointing to different things the schools did not want the girls to be wearing.”

The image, obtained by The Interior News, appears to show eight individuals – six girls and two boys – wearing various examples of prohibited clothing.

“Don’t wear: clothing that does not provide adequate coverage of your body,” it reads, referring to images of girls.

“Don’t wear: backless tops or clothes with revealing holes or tears.”

However, another illustration shows a boy wearing a baggy tank top with ripped sleeves and saggy jeans, with the jeans being labelled as against the code.

Carole Gagnon, executive assistant for School District 82, said schools are required to update their dress codes annually to comply with their overall code of conduct.

“Working with young adults at this time of year [when the temperatures increase] can become problematic when students make choices around wardrobe that may or may not be consistent with … the school code of conduct,” she said in an email.

READ MORE: B.C. legislature speaker says sleeveless dresses are OK

The school has a new administrative team, she said, so rewriting the dress code “only recently came to light as a potential issue.”

Watson said she supports a dress code and a larger conversation around what’s appropriate for kids to wear to school, but adds this initiative wasn’t even properly introduced.

“There was no preamble from the school, no consultation with parents, no consultations with students.

“My first thought was, ‘Oh, I was at the school yesterday helping out as a volunteer [and] I broke dress code – I wore a tank top.’ It was 27 degrees, you know?”

She added she was bothered by the emphasis on girls ostensibly distracting boys by what they are wearing.

“My daughter was told that she shouldn’t wear something that [will] cause a boy to have to cover his eyes to walk down the hallway, that’s my concern. The dress code isn’t there to teach the students about respect and professionalism,” she said. She added that when her daughter expressed concerns to a male teacher, she was told she was being immature.

Watson said she’s talked to other parents, who are concerned as well.

RELATED: B.C. trustee’s new dress code moves ahead despite opposition

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Gagnon said the current dress code is an interim measure and that the school and the district will take input from parents on revisions.

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