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Is This Canadian “Distraction Free” Learning Environment Body Shaming Girls?

Dress Code

Male students at an Alberta high school posted a sign complaining about female students who wear “distracting clothing”—and used a slur to describe them—in what many would call a “body shaming” dress code. The school continued to enforce the policy, complaining only about the slur in the boys’ sign.

Sign After Sign in the High School

As temperatures in Alberta rose this spring, a group of female students protested the dress code by posting this sign in the Breton High School bathroom:

When you interrupt a girl’s school day to force her to change clothes, or send her home because her shorts are too short or her bra straps are visible, you are telling her that making sure boys have a ‘distraction free’ learning environment is more important than her education. Instead of shaming girls for their bodies teach boys that girls are not sexual objects!!!

Superintendent Brad Volkman said the sign was removed within a half hour by staff––but not before students shared it on social media.

Dress Code
Credit: Source.

In response, boys posted their own signs in the hallway later the same day:

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 distracting working environment and saying ‘Your clothing is more important than their education. Instead of dressing like a THOT, value the male education and dress conservatively.

Girls from Breton, a town of just 600 people, were shocked at the boys’ sign.

Julie Steeves, a 9th-grade student said, “I just couldn’t believe it.” She added, “Lots of girls were really disgusted, sad and mad about this.”

That sign, too, was removed by the administration, and principal Lara Jollymore also sent an email to parents of all 125 students at the school about the issue.

In response to the signs’ content, Volkman said that using a slur such as THOT, an acronym for “that ho over there,” was “clearly out of order” and that Jollymore responded immediately to the issue by taking down the signs. The next day, Jollymore met with all students and called this debate on the dress code appropriate as long as it doesn’t include name-calling.

To read more, please continue to page 2.

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  • Amy McElroy is a contributing editor and writer for Rewire Me. She has written for print, radio, and online publications such as The Bold Italic, The Billfold, Noodle, Cosmopolitan, BlogHer, and others. Her website, amyjmcelroy.net, lists her editorial services. She’s on twitter at @amyjmcelroy. Amy balances her work at the computer by teaching yoga and fitness.

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