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Several hundred students protested outside the Béatrice-Desloges high school in Orléans on Friday to express outrage at a “dress code bombing” that featured girls being pulled from classes to have their shorts length checked.

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The protesting students returned to class around 1 pm after Education Superintendent Jason Dupuis arrived and spoke with them. Dupuis said that Le Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est will investigate her concerns and is reviewing the dress codes.

Ottawa police oversaw the protest and said they arrested a young man, who was not a student, for trespassing and causing a disturbance. He was escorted off school property and released without charge, police said.

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Teenagers on strike shouted for administrators to respect them and held up signs, in French, asking if their clothes were more important than their education and saying that young women should not be sexualized.

Several students said Béatrice-Desloges school administrators went to classrooms Thursday looking for dress code violations, including the rule that shorts or skirts must extend to “mid-thigh.”

Several girls said they were called out to the hallway or office to have their shorts inspected, and some were told to go home and change.

Several said they were humiliated and outraged by both the dress code and its enforcement.

Melanie Lalonde, 16, said “they took the girls out of the class and lined them up.”

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“I had on these 90s shorts, very baggy, and they told me my shorts were too short.”

Lalonde said girls should be allowed to wear shorts and tank tops without being “body-shamed”.

“We want to be able to dress comfortably for the weather and for ourselves and not be humiliated.”

Students at the Béatrice-Desloges Catholic High School protest against the enforcement of the school's dress code on May 13.
Students at the Béatrice-Desloges Catholic High School protest against the enforcement of the school’s dress code on May 13. Photo by Errol McGihon /post media

Sophie Labbée, a 12th grader, said the principal entered her classroom saying she wanted to talk to students whose outfits were “inappropriate” and asked them to follow her into the office.

“I thought he was referring to me,” said Labbée, who was wearing shorts. She said that she has had “dress code” several times in the last six years.

The director demonstrated a “trick” to determine if his shorts are too short, Labbée said. The director asked Labbée to lift her leg to a 90-degree angle, then put a clipboard on her knee and touched her thigh where the clipboard ended, saying it was the right length, Labbée said.

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Labbée said she felt uncomfortable because she didn’t like being touched by the school official. But she was mostly “frustrated and angry.”

“Why does this person have a problem with my body and my shorts?

“I just got out of school, I didn’t want to put up with it, it was so ridiculous.

“It’s always the same story, over and over again,” Labbée said. “They always say, ‘It’s not about you and your body. It’s about other people.

“I don’t understand why my body should make other people uncomfortable. If I was only 13 years old and was told that my body made other people uncomfortable, is this appropriate to say to a child?

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Melisande Ouellette, 17, said she was in math class when the principal arrived. She “she asked all the girls to stand up. She chose me and this other girl.” They were asked to go into the hallway and told that their shorts were “inappropriate.”

“It was very embarrassing”.

Ouellette said she was told to wait in the office, then in the library, and that she couldn’t return to class until someone delivered her clothes. “I was like, ‘Okay, I’m sorry, but I’m in math right now and math is really important.’ ”

His parents weren’t available and it took his sister a couple of hours to arrive with a pair of sweatpants, he said.

Ouellette said she missed two classes.

Jason Dupuis, superintendent of education for the French Catholic School Board, speaks to students at Béatrice-Desloges Catholic Secondary School on Friday, as they protest the dress code.
Jason Dupuis, superintendent of education for the French Catholic School Board, speaks to students at Béatrice-Desloges Catholic Secondary School on Friday, as they protest the dress code. Photo by Errol McGihon /post media

Parent Holly Patterson was standing outside the school on Friday cheering on students. “I am very proud of them for what they are standing for,” she said.

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When her 13-year-old son told her about the dress code bombing, she was stunned, Patterson said.

“They come to school to get an education and because of some archaic rules about what women should and shouldn’t wear, they are missing out on their education.

“There is nothing wrong with short shorts and spaghetti straps. Since when did it become demeaning for a woman to show her shoulders?

The Béatrice-Desloges dress code says that clothing must be “clean, decent and appropriate.”

Pants, shirts, and shorts must be “appropriate length (mid-thigh)” and worn so that undergarments are not visible.

Tops must cover “the entire upper part of the body”, cover the shoulders “to an appropriate width” and be worn so that undergarments are not visible.

“Head harness” may be worn but not in the classroom, office, or gym; sunglasses are prohibited except for “medical reasons”; and pajamas are prohibited.

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Dress codes are set by each school in consultation with parents, staff and students, Superintendent Dupuis said. The dress code at Béatrice-Desloges was revised last fall to make it clear that the rules apply regardless of gender, he said.

The school board is looking into the concerns raised by the students, he said.

“We’ve heard them, we’ve heard them and we’re going to go forward from here and build a positive relationship and make changes if necessary.”

The board does not approve of enforcing any dress code that involves touching or humiliating students, he said.

Dupuis said he was investigating what happened at the school on Thursday, but there was no indication that any student was asked to “bend down” to measure their shorts, a story circulating among students, or that rulers were used. . To measure.

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A letter was sent to parents at Béatrice-Desloges on Thursday night after some complained about the dress code blitz.

Parents were reminded of the dress code in April, and students were also informed of what was acceptable, the letter from Principal Marie-Claude Veilleux says.

During the bombing, some students were asked to go out into the hallway to clarify whether they were abiding by the code, but administrators respected the students’ dignity, the letter, which was written in French, says.

The letter said the app may have led some to conclude that students were targeted and apologized if any offense was taken because it was not intended.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board recently dropped the policy of allowing each school to adopt a dress code. Instead, a universal code was adopted that does not include any reference to the length of skirts or types of blouses.

The new dress code “recognizes that all students have the right to fully express themselves at school through their choice of clothing, hairstyles, jewelry and accessories.”

The policy prohibits clothing that depicts violence, profanity, discriminatory, hateful, or pornographic images or slogans, or that promotes the use of alcohol and drugs.

— Archived by Lynn Saxberg

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