A proposed school district-wide dress code policy in Chilliwack that would allow girls to wear clothes such as “spaghetti straps” and short shorts is moving ahead after a heated debate.
The district currently doesn’t have a policy and leaves it up to each school to decide what is appropriate for students.
Trustee Willow Reichelt’s proposal is essentially less restrictive than the ones in place at each school, and focuses on student expression and family choices in clothing. She said it is almost identical to a policy in Victoria.
The school board voted 4-3 in favour of the policy in theory, depending on what comes out of session for public input.
Trustees were strictly divided on the topic of students’ clothing, making several amendments, and some trustees claiming others were pushing an “ideology.”
“I do believe modesty is important,” said trustee Darrell Furgason, adding girls’ clothing distracts boys so the onus is on them to dress modestly.
“I think that’s wisdom for not causing distraction,” he said. “Not wearing revealing clothing is just wisdom.”
Furgason also said in his years as a teacher, he would have found it distracting to be sitting across from a girl who was “immodestly” dressed.
Heather Maahs called the proposal “micro-managing,” saying restrictions such as not showing bra straps protect vulnerable students from “predators.”
“Pimps” at Chilliwack Middle School are preying on girls who wear revealing clothes, she told the meeting, and who “look for the wrong kind of attention.”
Reichelt has said she’s fighting for a dress code policy that does not discriminate against girls.
In the public participation portion of the board meeting, Meghan Reid pointed to her daughter Charlotte’s modest outfit of a tank top, a heavy sweater, and jeans.
“She’s been dress-coded in this outfit,” Reid said, because a small portion of her bra strap was showing.
Reid, a former parent advisory council executive and a member of five such councils over the years, told the board that parents are not currently involved in the creation or amendments of the school-based dress codes.