Isfeld student Jaylene Kuo is hoping to get the school district to come up with a more up-to-date dress code. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Island student lobbies school board for dress code consistency

Jaylene Kuo contacted school trustees after seeing dress guidelines at brother’s school

A Grade 12 student at Mark. R. Isfeld Secondary in Courtenay is questioning the board of education over inconsistent dress codes within the district.

For the last board meeting on Oct. 22, trustees received a letter from student Jaylene Kuo to follow up on an earlier message to the board she had sent them in June.

“We’ve been working with schools asking them to review their dress codes, working with their school communities,” superintendent Tom Demeo told the board at the meeting. “It’s something that we’ll continue to work on, and we’ll report back to the board.”

Kuo was prompted to look further into the issue after her brother, who attends Valley View Elementary, was given a general reminder to pay attention to the school dress code as the warm weather was approaching in the spring. She even put together a video on YouTube about the issue.

When Kuo looked through the code, she found it was targeted more toward girls than boys.

“I was shocked to see the number of rules that specifically targeted the way girls dress,” she wrote to the board, adding that almost every sentence seemed to be directed toward female students.

Kuo told the board she feels the code should be “respectful, modern and gender-neutral.”

As far as her own school, she wrote the dress code was vaguely written and left open to personal interpretation, which she described as unfair, biased and demeaning to all genders.

In general, she says many of the dress codes throughout Comox Valley schools refer to “distracting” clothing, meaning that it distracts other people. This, Kuo feels, comes with a couple of problems. For a female student pulled out of class because her clothing might be too distracting, it sends a message that she should be ashamed of herself and her body. For boys, it assumes they are not capable of controlling their thoughts and actions.

RELATED STORY: B.C. mom upset by dress code’s disproportionate targeting of girls

Kuo has requested the board adopt a policy along the lines of other districts such as Victoria or Chilliwack. She has found some examples of cases in other provinces or countries, including Oxford University. In one case, she came across a story about a five-year-old girl sent home for wearing a sundress, and she started wondering what kind of message this sends to young girls.

In part, this campaign started as a social justice class assignment for Kuo, and initially, she was thinking of tackling an issue on a broader scale but decided to focus on something close to home.

“This is something that I might actually be able to make a change in,” she says.

Already, Isfeld has simplified its policy, which has been pared down, Kuo says, to matters of safety or prohibiting any clothing that promotes alcohol and drug use.

“I’m really happy that Isfeld changed their dress code,” she adds.

READ MORE: Survey response to school catchment review already strong in Comox Valley district

Kuo is hoping the district will follow suit and come up with something that is fair for all students at all schools, ideally on a district-wide basis.

“I would like dress codes to be gender-neutral, be inclusive … positive,” she adds.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Sex workers march in downtown Victoria for Red Umbrella Day

Red umbrellas became a symbol of sex workers after an art installation in Italy

MLA Adam Olsen calls for ‘substantial’ changes in provincial economy

Green Party MLA also criticizes gap between government rhetoric and actions

500 pounds of turkey served at Cool Aid community Christmas dinner

Annual dinner serves hundreds of community members

VIDEO: Annual Tuba Christmas concert draws large crowd to Market Square

Over 100 tuba and euphonium players gathered to play festive tunes

Revisit Christmas past as Point Ellice House displays Victorian-era traditions

Antique bobbles, cards, decor and more are on display

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

The Conservatives have a Toronto convention already scheduled for April

Most Read