Trustee Heather Maahs argues her points at the Chilliwack school board table on March 12. Her comments and those of a fellow have come under fire for blaming girls for men’s actions. (Black Press Media files)

‘Disgusting and shameful’: School dress code debate by B.C. trustees irk union head

International Longshore and Warehouse Union president Rob Ashton calls out Chilliwack trustees

He may be an unlikely representative to be speaking out on school policies, but the union president for B.C. dock workers is calling out Chilliwack trustees over comments raised during a recent debate on dress codes.

International Longshore and Warehouse Union president Rob Ashton posted a letter to Chilliwack School District board chair Dan Coulter on Friday, expressing his “complete disgust” with statements made by two trustees while debating a motion to create a district-wide policy to replace individual school dress codes.

During the board meeting Tuesday, Trustee Darrel Furgason said it is a girl’s responsibility to dress modestly, calling teaching boys not to react an untested “experiment.” He added there are “many needy girls from families who may be victims of voyeurism.”

Furgason also said in his years teaching religious studies he would find it distracting to be sitting across from a girl who was “immodestly” dressed.

Trustee Heather Maahs said if girls are allowed to wear what they want at school, it would put them in danger on school grounds and increase predatory behavior from men in the community. She said girls who dress certain ways are “looking for the wrong kind of attention.”

READ MORE: Dress code debate includes heated exchange, head-turning claims

READ MORE: BCTF president speaks up on Chilliwack dress code comments

Ashton, who has two daughters, called on the board members to either retract their statements or resign.

He said that putting the blame of unwanted attention based on the way a person dresses has made room for people like Brock Turner, the Stanford University swimmer who was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.

“People like Brock are created with the language that is coming from some of the Chilliwack School Board members in the media,” Ashton wrote.

He went on to say that a woman should have the right to dress as she chooses and that men need to be taught to respect boundaries.

“The onus is on men to control themselves and if they can’t then they should be punished harshly for violating the boundaries and trust of another human being,” he said. “You as a school board should be instilling this in the next generation rather than the garbage that some of you have been projecting in the media.”

Ashton isn’t the first to speak out about the school trustees’ comments. In an interview this week with Black Press Media, B.C. Teachers Federation president Glen Hansman didn’t hold back his condemnation, calling the comments outdated and ones made by Furgason “creepy.”

Since facing backlash, Furgason has defended his comments in a post on his Worldview Studies Center Facebook page.

“I stand for decency, modesty and a dress code that reflects a professional environment,” he said.

– With files from Jessica Peters, The Chilliwack Progress


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hamhuis hangs up his skates

The Nashville Predators defenceman and Smithereen spent 16 years in the NHL

Province, feds, Wet’suwet’en announce progress in MOU talks

Community engagement process launched to implement northern B.C. First Nation’s rights and title

Cyclist dead following Hwy 16 collision with pickup

The cyclist was a 41-year-old man from Smithers

Province, feds, Wet’suwet’en announce progress in MOU talks

External community engagement process launched to help implement Wet’suwet’en rights and title

Smithers contractor refurbishes sailboat for Northwest Passage adventure

Ron Smith, who has been working on the “Obsession” for 12 years, will put her in the water this week

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Most Read