TDSB decision to relax dress code divides parents

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If you are a parent who has grumbled about scandalously dressed high school teenagers, things are about to get a whole lot different. The Toronto District School Board is changing the rules around what students can wear in the classroom. Hello hats, hoods, crop-tops and spaghetti straps, it’s all good.

The new policy, passed on May 22, takes effect September 2019 and draws on with principles of “equity, anti-oppression, anti-racism, non-discrimination, equitable and inclusive education,” the board says on its website.

It’s the first time the policy has been revised in nearly a decade.

“Historically, school dress codes have been written and enforced in ways that disproportionately and negatively impact” certain segments of the student population, including female, racialized, gender-diverse, socio-economically marginalized and Indigenous students, the board says.

And while many schools have already adopted a more relaxed policy over the years, the policy means schools across the board will operate according to the same standards, with the exception of schools with a uniform policy, but wait, their strict rules could well be under review soon. A few complaints against the dress code and how it discriminates against a section of students will be all it takes to have change.

Parents and teachers are right to have reservations about the new and more permissive dress code. Already with rules in place, many teenagers openly flouted them and pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable in a classroom setting. Now with these new rules, it will make it harder if not impossible for a teacher to determine whether or not a student has crossed the line. In any case, few teachers are interested in finding themselves fighting what many see is a losing battle. Most simply ignore a poorly dressed individual rather than risk having to run afoul with parents and other students who will accuse him or her of infringing on the rights of students.

The policy does come with restrictions. Students can’t wear clothing that promotes offensive, vulgar images or language. Profanity, hate and pornography are not allowed. Nor can clothing have references to drugs or alcohol.

And while midriffs, cleavage and thighs can all be exposed, “opaque material” must cover the groin, buttock area and nipples.

Going by the current trends it may just be a matter of time before even the rules against extremely revealing clothing will be sold as mere suggestions. -CINEWS

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