Chilliwack school trustees face backlash for dress code comments
Nick Wells, CTV Vancouver
Published Wednesday, March 13, 2019 5:45PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 13, 2019 7:53PM PDT
Chilliwack school board trustees are facing a backlash over comments made about updating the district's dress code.
Trustee Willow Reichelt had proposed changing the dress code in Chilliwack schools at a Tuesday night meeting, arguing current rules target and discriminate against girls.
"When we call out a girl for a dress code violation, we are teaching her that our comfort is more important than hers and her male peers' behaviour is her responsibility. That's not the message I want to be sending," Reichelt told fellow trustees.
Currently, Chilliwack schools individually administer a dress code.
Reichelt said she had heard from parents of children in both high school and elementary school who complained about the policies.
In one case, she claimed, a girl was forced to wear a sweater in June because she was wearing a top that had spaghetti straps.
The proposal was met with backlash, with trustee Heather Maahs arguing schools should be left alone to decide what should be allowed as it will stop some students from seeking attention.
"There are students out there who are needy, who will dress in provocative ways, looking for the wrong kind of attention," she said.
Darrell Furgason argued that schools are not the place to "try to impose an ideology that doesn't work in reality."
"Having girls with cleavage exposed, you may think that's their right," he said. "There are many needy girls from families who may be victims of voyeurism. As a teacher in a school, I would not want to see some girl partially dressed."
The president of the BC Teachers' Federation called the comments bizarre and creepy.
"That's not even 1950s thinking. It is Dark Ages thinking," said Glen Hansman. "And it's disturbing in 2019 that we would have elected officials in a community in British Columbia making comments like that."
The motion was amended to have the board of education refer the policy to the education policy advisory committee for input.
With files from CTV's Emad Agahi and Penny Daflos