School dress codes are part of life
High school is nothing if you don’t have a good rebellion.
I well remember an insurrection against the headmistress at my grammar school in England.
Her last name was Hogg and the wicked leaders of the coup drew a crude picture of a large pig surrounded by caricatures of our teachers and we all laughed heartily at what we considered a recklessly avant-garde attack on an authoritarian administration.
If only we’d known how good we had it back then and how a cruel world would tolerate our juvenile and rather naive opinions for the nanosecond it took to realize that we had no experience of life.
It all came flooding back Tuesday when I heard of two student protests at schools in London, Ont. and Etobicoke.
Both were about school dress codes and how young women were protesting being told what not to wear.
At Etobicoke School for the Arts, Alexi Halket told CITY-TV she wanted to celebrate her 18th birthday by wearing a crop top to school. She wore one Tuesday and was asked to change by a male teacher, who told her the top looked too much like a sports bra.
Alexi took to Twitter, saying that request sexualized her.
“That only means that it’s seen as sexual or provocative and the teachers shouldn’t be making those observations about students,” she said.
I beg to differ. I understand this is an arts school and the dress code may be loosey-goosey, but telling a student to dress appropriately is doing her a favour.
Some young people need direction — in language, behaviour, whatever.
They don’t understand that school is school and the beach is the beach.
Govern yourself accordingly.
It gives a whole new meaning to “show me your belly button.”
Wearing a crop top to school is not a human right.
You have the right to dress any way you want in public, at home — wherever. Pioneering feminist Gwen Jacob challenged public decency laws in Guelph in 1991 when she was convicted for appearing topless in public. She appealed her conviction — and won.
So that battle’s over.
But at a school, everyone has the right to feel comfortable — especially the teachers who have to work in a room full of hormone-driven teens with no sense of boundaries.
From her Twitter feed, Alexi appears to be a talented singer. She’ll likely go on to great success in show business and won’t have to explain her wardrobe to anyone.
But here’s the caveat, other youngsters: Prospective employers are watching social media.
If the greatest battle you fought in high school was for the right to wear a crop top, the only employer who’ll be impressed is your local Hooters.
Principal Rob MacKinnon said the protest was a good thing in that it engaged the students and they’d had an hour-long discussion in the school library.
“Dress codes are about communities deciding what’s appropriate in the school setting,” he said.
Sounds like a diplomat.
I’m sure Alexi and her friends would be the first to complain if a male teacher looked at her in any way that could be construed as being vaguely inappropriate.
In London, Laura Anderson showed up at A.B. Lucas Secondary School wearing ripped jeans and a tank top. She was sent home.
“There was nothing wrong with it,” Anderson told Postmedia’s Kate Dubinski. “I believe that the oversexualization of women in our school creates such a toxic environment for our young teenagers.”
Hello? If anything sexualizes a young woman, it’s a tank top.
Parents are further undermining teachers and principals by backing their daughters in this nonsense. A principal calls the shots in school. End of discussion.
The dress code was reasonable. The school wasn’t asking her to don a burka.
And yes, I’m old and cranky. But my generation fought for landmark changes that brought real, meaningful change in the lives of women.
Equal pay, maternity leave, reproductive rights, human rights protection.
Crop tops never, um, cropped up.
Do you think schools are too strict about clothing?