YK1 looks at changing ‘sexist’ girls’ clothing policy

Page from JH Sissons handbook
This image, circulated on Facebook, shows a page from a JH Sissons School handbook regarding dress code.
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Yellowknife’s YK1 school district says it will look at amending a clothing policy labelled ‘sexist’.

Late last week, details from JH Sissons School’s student and parent handbook began circulating online.

The handbook describes the school’s dress code as follows:

Students are to come to school dressed appropriately and respectfully; for instance: hats, spaghetti strap tops, mini skirts, vulgar messages on shirts, etc. are not to be worn to school.

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A number of parents and residents took issue with the dress code’s claim that spaghetti strap tops and mini skirts are on a par with vulgar messages.

“They are reasonable and normal pieces of clothing,” Yellowknife resident Nancy MacNeill told Moose FM.

“With summer coming, it’s unrealistic and inappropriate to tell young women they’re not allowed to wear tank tops and clothing that makes them feel comfortable. It gets really hot here and covering up for no good reason is kind-of stupid.

“Young women and young men are totally at liberty to choose what they wear. Restricting that based on one gender is not fair.”

YK1 confirmed to Moose FM that the handbook page shown in online photos does originate from its JH Sissons School.

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But superintendent Metro Huculak thinks it unlikely that the rule, as written, would ever be strictly enforced.

“As long as it’s respectful and appropriate, there’s no problem,” said Huculak, who was not sure how the current wording came to be introduced, or when that happened.

“Our dress code is very simple: respectful and appropriate. Boys sometimes wear pants sometimes almost falling off, that’s not appropriate … these are junior high kids. No see-through tops. And we shouldn’t be seeing their underwear.

“But in the hot weather and so on, we’re not that strict.”

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Huculak suggested YK1 and the school may revise the wording. “Making it more general is easier to deal with,” he said. “It’s interpretation. But we really haven’t had an issue that I know of.”

MacNeill added: “My belief is very strong that Yellowknife educators care so much about their students, and I don’t think that is exclusive to one gender over another.

“I believe this was issued mistakenly or without too much thought.

“Most people in 2015 would see the obvious oppression and sexism inherent in this kind of policy.”

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