Controversy Over Student Dress Codes in Alberta Schools

Student dress codes are once again causing controversy in Alberta Schools. The dress code for girls, in particular, has become more vehemently criticized than ever before, as it is believed to have the effect of “shaming” girls for the fact that they are female.

Offensive notes have been cropping up on school hallway walls, bulletin boards, as well as bathroom mirrors and walls. Many are believed to have been written by students themselves, while some purport they are being encouraged by parents to post such notes.

One public post from Virgin Radio Edmonton, states that the following letter was posted in the hallways of Breton (Alberta) high school: “When you wear little to no clothing and dress provocatively because it’s “too hot out” or because you think it’s “attractive”, you are putting boys at risk of having a a distracting working environment and saying “your clothing is more important than their education. Instead of dressing like a THOT (“That Whore Over There”), value the male education and dress conservatively. The sexist slant of the above letter is not lost on many who have read it.

One source points out, this is akin to the mentality of judges who have been reprimanded in rape court decision where they blatantly have told the sexual assault victim, “You should have just kept your legs closed”….and what about, they state, “Men who create a distracting work environment for females by posting offensive nude or near nude calendars sexualizing females in their offices or shops, yet still seem to get their work done”.

THOT, is a slang acronym for “That Ho Over There”, which has added increased debate and criticism over posted letters and notes with regard to the manner in which young girls are being viewed and ultimately, shamed.

Another statement from Global News states, “when you interrupt a girl’s school day to force her to change her clothes, or send her home because her shorts are too short, or her bra straps are too visible, you are telling her that making sure boys have a “distraction-free” environment is more important than HER education”. Another note states, “Instead of shaming girls for their bodies, teach boys that girls are not sexual objects!”.

Brad Volkman, superintendent of the Wild Rose School Division said many of the notes were a back and forth between students and quickly taken down. Principal Lara Jollymore said the inappropriate use of the “THOT” acronym was troubling and was “being addressed”. Students were given a heavy reminder to express their opinions in a respectful manner.

The 2016-2017 student handbook expressed the dress code thusly: “Skirts and shorts must be longer than arm’s length, and the inseam of shorts must be at least one hand-length long…all underwear, cleavage, navels, and bra straps must be covered”. This is a tall order for adolescents who are growing and developing, in many cases, only able to use last year’s summer clothing and not realizing, say for instance, that borne of nature, their natural cleavage is beginning to show a little, or that they are doing anything inappropriate. Thus, the issue of being made to feel ashamed of their bodies is brought to the fore.

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The issue can be taken as far as to state that girls are often unaware that their cleavage is showing, or a bra strap is showing and the backlash to their summer clothes is akin to bullying.

Virgin Radio also states, “…most people argued that it shouldn’t be up to the girls to ensure boys aren’t becoming distracted and that girls should not be policed for what they wear”. In some instances, even what teachers wear has been called into question, citing a contradiction to the entire issue.

Two more comments taken from individuals on Virgin Radio state, “This is highly sexist. It’s saying the boys’ education is more important than sending the message of girls bodies being respected (rather than objectified or sexualized).”…..A terrible message to be sending to young females. The way they dress has nothing to do with male education”.

Another source states, “This isn’t the first time dress codes have made headlines in Alberta. Calgary and Edmonton have both been heavily criticized in 2016 for dress codes that were likely to shame girls for wearing comfortable clothing, especially in the warmer summer months”.

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Another states, “It is distressing that the school thinks boys are so easily distracted that it is the girls’ fault for being female”…”clearly the attitude demonstrated by the note advocates for the education of boys….and not giving boys credit for self-reflection and self-discipline”. The onus seems to be on the girls and their clothing, rather than the more important issue of an all-round education for both girls and boys respecting each other.

The final source states, “Perhaps the desrespect and inherent sexism can be gleaned by reading the dress codes themselves and taking critical analysis of those administrators who created the need to conform to an impossible dress code for growing adolescents to adhere to in the first place”.

The last word goes to one mother who states, “I can’t keep up to, nor can I always afford to keep up with their growing bodies and providing constantly conformist clothing for them, especially during the warmer summer months”.


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41 COMMENTS

  • Michael German
    June 7, 2017 at 10:01 AM
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    I am a single father and I dress my daughter conservatively, but this is absolutely f**king stupid teaching girls they have to dress a certain way or boys won’t respect them and it’s there fault!!! Maybe raise your boys to respect woman and not objectify girls and then maybe as adults they’ll be more well adjusted and not so “distracted”

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  • Fred William Glaubitz
    June 7, 2017 at 2:47 PM
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    A dress code is a great idea.
    In the professional, or even the oil and gas industry, people are expected to report to work as the employer deems acceptable and safe.
    Expecting a person to dress modestly at work or school is not the end of the world.
    It’s an education facility, not a damned beach party.

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  • Jackie Ogden
    June 7, 2017 at 10:29 PM
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    If women weren’t objectified, it wouldn’t matter if they were covered up or not.

    That’s the issue.

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    • Ellen Hancock
      June 15, 2017 at 8:40 PM
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      They make men’s clothes baggy, a girl can’t even fit a lighter in a pocket!

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  • Edmonton Talks News
    June 8, 2017 at 12:40 AM
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    Jackie Ogden…WORD! I worry about the issues at large here that go beyond “respect” even. What about honouring the dignity and freedom of other human beings. ? Along with freedom goes responsibility of course, but what about the responsibility held by those creating these dress codes in the first place. They are created & modified according to an already pre-existing dress code in the School Act that dates back to the Victorian era…ok not the Victorian Era, but almost…the 1940’s and 1950’s…where onus was placed upon females to bear the burden of “respectable dress”. It is still happening now. The administrators need to have a good look at why and how they are making these rules and how it affects other human beings & their inherent human right to dignity and freedom.

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    • Ellen Hancock
      June 15, 2017 at 8:45 PM
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      Fred William glaubitz don’t be so naive, all woman’s clothes are body tight gloves, it is the double standard no one speaks of, girls get no pockets, tight clothes, men get baggy stuff!!! Then you complain when they wear what is “in style”! Check out your sexism kiddo, you are turning into a pig

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    • Fred William Glaubitz
      June 8, 2017 at 1:42 AM
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      Oh BS.
      The idea of dressing appropriately for a professional environment, whether it be school or the office goes across both genders.
      If you are a bouncer at the club and want to show off your damned biceps and incredibly awesome abs, have at er, just don’t try coming into the office the next morning wearing the same style of attire.

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  • Ellen Hancock
    June 15, 2017 at 8:39 PM
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    I am conflicted on this, girls should be able to dress as they wish… But look at how girls clothes are made…pockets can’t be used, bathing suits reveal everything, tee shirts are bodysuits. Men’s clothes::: bathing suits are baggy with pockets, jeans have pockets, tee-shirts are baggy. A girl and a guy go to a pool, she has nowhere to put a locker key, he can hide everything, her tampon shows!

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  • Faye Segaran
    June 7, 2017 at 8:43 AM
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    Wtf is wrong with society today … teach your sons to respect women … teach your daughters to respect themselves … teach both to respect eachother … easy peasy

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    • Kristy Koeneman
      June 7, 2017 at 9:05 AM
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      No doubt. I agree teenagers shouldn’t wear certain things but it all starts at home!

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    • Timothy Griggins
      June 7, 2017 at 5:50 PM
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      Everything they see on tv shows women as objects . Women are portrayed as such. What do you expect.

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  • Scott Young
    June 7, 2017 at 9:16 AM
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    I Timothy 2:9 says, in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing.

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    • Jodie Costello
      June 7, 2017 at 9:33 AM
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      But we don’t live in biblical times and we’re not all catholic. How many follow the book in its entirety anyway?
      It shouldn’t be up to the girls to ensure boys aren’t becoming distracted.

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    • Jodie Costello
      June 7, 2017 at 9:49 AM
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      A better place for Christians perhaps but certainly not for anyone of any other faith, gender they aren’t born with, or non SIS people etc etc. As an athiest I believe in kindness and humanity without an eternal reward, it doesn’t have to be biblical to make the world a better place, we have to be better people to do that.

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    • Faye Segaran
      June 7, 2017 at 11:59 AM
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      Religion has naught to do with respecting each other nor should it … it is the Human thing to do … all religions all people all the time … respect each other … easy peasy

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    • Rachel Hart
      June 7, 2017 at 10:07 AM
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      Personally I could care less about what some bible verse says. The point is that these notes shouldn’t be left around the school, these children need to be taught respect for others.

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    • Rachel Hart
      June 7, 2017 at 10:07 AM
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      Personally I could care less about what some bible verse says. The point is that these notes shouldn’t be left around the school, these children need to be taught respect for others.

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    • Cee Dee Hawn
      June 7, 2017 at 11:45 AM
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      The world would be a better place. I see that dress code didn’t help you in history. phht.

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    • Amanda Milke
      June 7, 2017 at 11:58 AM
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      Scott Young We as Christian are Biblically called NOT to judge those outside the faith but to Judge those inside it. ”
      What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?”
      1 Corinthians 5:12 NIV
      You might want to re-read that passage.

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    • Leah Myrah
      June 7, 2017 at 9:34 AM
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      Defending sexism, disrespect, shaming and oppression is not only what is wrong with this world but also Hypocritical. Jesus said to Love one another and was a friend to Mary Magdalene. A prostitute!
      He didn’t say slut shame and press your twisted perverted views on little girls because you are a gross old fuck.
      Stop taking one verse out and running with it. Also use your own damn logic instead of relying on the bible….which is thousands of years old an outdated….
      Unless you think we should all sit on pots during our periods and be shamed for something that is completely natural.

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    • Scott Young
      June 7, 2017 at 9:42 AM
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      Leah Myrah Only the Western church has said that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. The Eastern church has always honored her as an apostle, noting her as the “apostle to the apostles,” based on the account of the Gospel of John which has Jesus calling her by name and telling her to give the news of his resurrection to the other disciples. And how did you come to the conclusion that *I* am a gross old f***? How about your love your neighbor as yourself? Hmmm.

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    • Scott Young
      June 7, 2017 at 9:39 AM
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      Jodie Costello I’m not Catholic, I’m a Christian. And if we all followed the Bibles advise even a little bit the world would be a better place.

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  • Shona Miskinack
    June 7, 2017 at 9:45 AM
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    I agree with a dress code not because if it isn’t followed that it distracts boys but because girls should respect themselves enough not to want to have all of their goods displayed so prominently in what some of them wear today . Males and females alike should be taught at home respect for each other. And boys should wear their pants right and not have their underwear hanging out it’s a simple enough thing to follow .

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    • Lisa Boone
      June 7, 2017 at 6:49 PM
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      I’m curious why you feel that not showing their body equals self respect?

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    • Shona Miskinack
      June 7, 2017 at 7:45 PM
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      Ok so if I’m out say going to a meeting would I wear a spaghetti strap shirt that emphasizes the size of my breasts and skin tight pants with the straps of a thong hanging out of the sides when I bend over ? Nope I wouldn’t why because it would not be the best way to present myself the young girls now are pressured in unbelievable ways to dress in such a manner that if they don’t they are not part of an in crowd so they are 13 or 14 dressed like their hitting up a club . It sets them up to think they aren’t pretty or gorgeous unless they are dressed that way . I might be old fashioned but my girls were taught to be mindful of how they present themselves to the world a young lady able to be dressed without wearing the clothes that are must have, show far more strength and integrity for themselves to not want to be viewed in such a way . Society has led young ladies to believe that unless they have hair nails and tight clothing they are not acceptable boys at the same time should like I said not be wearing their underwear out of their pants either. A two finger width for a shirt doesn’t seem unreasonable or shorts that have to be longerthan their arms when down the sides they go to school to learn .

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  • Yasmeen Malik
    June 7, 2017 at 10:36 AM
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    I can’t believe this … it’s school …. cover your ass and go get an education….
    when you get a job are you going to complain to the boss about why you can’t wear your mini skirt and bra top to the office??? This isn’t about shaming women at all it’s about self respect and preparing you for the real world. What is wrong with people

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    • Yasmeen Malik
      June 7, 2017 at 12:12 PM
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      Most professional jobs require you to cover your shoulders and wear bottoms that are longer than where your fingers reach at your sides. Even McDonald’s requirements are more strict and it’s a minimum wage entry level job. Construction workers have to wear a full suit. The point is you follow the policy /requirements of the establishment.

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  • Maureen Follis
    June 7, 2017 at 11:00 AM
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    I agree Michael raise your boys to respect women and we would not have this issue

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  • Paulina Smith-tolentino
    June 7, 2017 at 11:40 AM
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    It’s the parents responsibility to be sure their girls are dressed appropriately for school. If they are not dressed appropriately then parents should be contacted and they can correct it. School should set some kind of dress code like bellies covered and dresses and shorts must be a certain length within reason. Notes should not be posted anywhere. Boys have to take some responsibilty as well, they need to respect girls which is taught at home and learn to behave themselves. Boys should not be allowed to walk around with their pants down and ass hanging out and would have their shirts on at all times And no crude comments.

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  • Timothy Griggins
    June 7, 2017 at 5:51 PM
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    Women are portrayed as objects in hollywood and on tv. Hollywood controls conciousness. Its a sad reality.

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