School board places guidelines on length of shorts

Raissa Tetanish
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TRURO - If you're going to be wearing shorts to school, you better do a length test.

The mother of a female student at Truro Junior High School took a picture of her daughter in a pair of shorts she wore to school last week. The student was told not to wear the shorts to school again.

The mother of a female student at Truro Junior High School took a picture of her daughter in a pair of shorts she wore to school last week. The student was told not to wear the shorts to school again.

In response to parents and students claiming some girls at Truro Junior High School were made to change for wearing shorts, the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board's spokesperson confirmed there are guidelines to follow.

"It's not in the student handbook, but there is a guideline that all our middle schools in the Cobequid Family of Schools follows," said Debbie Buott-Matheson. "When the student stands up, whether it's female or male, and put their hands down at their sides, where their fingertips lay is the guideline. Shorts can't be any shorter than that."

The guideline goes not just for shorts, but dresses and skirts as well, and also includes faculty.

"If a student is taller than another, they may be wearing the same shorts but they will fall shorter because they are taller," she added. "Faculty never want to look at someone and say, ‘you can't wear that.' It's unfortunate that it has come to that, and it's unfortunate because no one wants to feel their personal expression is being stifled."

She said, however, that school is a learning environment and staff is in place to make decisions to make that learning environment comfortable for all students, and non-distracting.

A number of students and parents contacted the Truro Daily News newsroom about some female students at the school being made to change for wearing shorts.

"My daughter sent me a text (Friday) morning saying that she got in trouble for wearing shorts," wrote a mother of a Grade 8 student. "I went to the school to speak to the vice-principal and she informed me that the shorts were too short."

The mother, who didn't want to be identified or to identify her daughter, told the vice-principal that she didn't feel they were.

"They are in no way short, nothing is exposed and they fall at an acceptable length," she wrote. "I told her that I completely disagreed and that my daughter would continue to wear those shorts and her other ones to school."

A student also wrote to the Truro Daily News, stating she had been one of about 50 girls to wear shorts that day and also said a few "were driven home by faculty members" to change.

"We feel that this is not right," she wrote. "The faculty say we need to cover ourselves up so that we ‘don't distract male students and/or faculty members.' Why can't they stop teaching us to cover up and start teaching the guys to respect us?"

A number of female students chose to wear shorts to school again on Monday, including the mother's daughter who was again called into the office.

"These girls are being told that they can't wear shorts because it is distracting to male students and teachers. Our girls are being victimized for wearing shorts ... it's like they have to change their way of dressing because it makes men uncomfortable ... but it's OK for men to "ogle" our daughters," she said.

Buott-Matheson said when a school has an issue with dress code, for example if a male student is wearing pants low enough to see his underwear, it isn't about singling out students.

"It may be a judgment call on behalf of the administration. That's what they are there for, to help monitor the school environment and to make it so it isn't uncomfortable or distracting," she said.

While the guidelines aren't included in the junior high school's student handbook found online, it does include a section on ‘consequences of failing code of behaviour,' which includes suspension.

The mother said her daughter was told she could face suspension.

"She is not to wear shorts that fall mid-thigh ... which I thought hers did," she wrote. "She will be suspended next time. No more chances because she is being defiant."

An online petition has been started to have both the school board and school ‘change their stand on the dress code and re-evaluate the reasons that our daughters are being given for not being allowed to wear shorts.' The petition can be found here

rtetanish@trurodaily.com

Organizations: Truro Junior High School, Central Regional School Board, Truro Daily News

Geographic location: Chignecto

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Recent comments

  • Renee Munroe
    May 15, 2014 - 07:26

    When a rule is applied inconsistently or unfairly, it should be challenged. This is what we have done throughout history to become modern. This is part of teaching your child critical thinking. Our children must grow up so fast now, why not let them be kids? Do we really need for them to be adopting a professional dress code in middle school? It really is a shame that this has broken down to "my side - your side". All children must be taught focus in school. They also must be taught to respect the opposite sex, and not just see them as sexual beings. We do live in a culture where "boys will be boys" is a line used to slough off our responsibility (as a society) to teach boys respect for women; as a result, our women and girls will never be totally safe to be who they are until this changes.

  • Adam
    May 15, 2014 - 00:55

    and I thought my teenage girl was dramatic... It's clothing people. What are you all worried about? That they are going to skip clothing all together. If a 14 year old girl is a distraction to a male teacher... They really shouldn't be teaching.

  • Vicki
    May 14, 2014 - 18:13

    These shorts do not meet the "standards" as set out by the CCRSB given that the girl does not have her hand open while down at her sides. ALSO, I would be willing to bet that these shorts were being worn as depicted but were rolled up from the bottom at least twice, thereby making them even shorter!!! Stick to your guns CCRSB!!! School is not the place for short shorts!!

    • Renee Munroe
      May 15, 2014 - 14:27

      Who are you to assume that the shorts were rolled up? Do you have any fact to back up your assumption? You know what happens when you assume.

  • Joshua
    May 14, 2014 - 15:58

    I think many people are missing the point here. Sure, the dress code could be re-evaluated, and it certainly wouldn't hurt for it to be more transparent (clearly, there are many that aren't aware of it). The more troubling issue is the reasoning, which is actually part of the title of the petition: "Change their stand on the dress code and re-evaluate the reasons that our daughters are being given for not being allowed to wear shorts." Re-evaluating the reasons seems like a reasonable thing to do, when the reasons sound like they're based on sexist and/or outdated ideas.

  • Susan
    May 14, 2014 - 15:51

    These young people are at a special time in their lives learning about their place in society and their relationship to rules and limits. Im glad to hear that the girls questioned why they were being singled out and I'm sorry (but not surprised) they got their answer in the sexist high handed manner they were dealt with. I work in a traditional primarily male environment and we have a dress code for everyone and it reflects social mores. I don't expect to be told to dress in an unusual manner while my male colleagues can look normal. I went to TJHS and I support the girls and their parents

  • Tami
    May 14, 2014 - 15:44

    I think the dress code needs to be updated, no one is advocating bringing in something that would not be appropriate, those shorts those two girls I saw pictures of were not to short and they were not short shorts. Some of you are talking about getting the kids ready for the real world and dressing for that. These are kids not even high school kids. I worked for a corporation for 30 years in a professional role. There was a dress code in place, AND that dress code changed numerous times to be in line with the times. That is what a real work place does. It does not become stagnant, it changes, the world is about change. So if you want these kids to be ready for the work world you want them to be used to change, you want them to challenge the norm, they are using their minds it is a good thing. If the school board does update the dress code I am sure it is going to be in good taste. But even if these shorts were two inches longer, is that still going to be a distraction for the boys. We need to be empowering our girls and saying they need to dress a certain way so the boys won't notice them is wrong!

  • Tami
    May 14, 2014 - 15:43

    I think the dress code needs to be updated, no one is advocating bringing in something that would not be appropriate, those shorts those two girls I saw pictures of were not to short and they were not short shorts. Some of you are talking about getting the kids ready for the real world and dressing for that. These are kids not even high school kids. I worked for a corporation for 30 years in a professional role. There was a dress code in place, AND that dress code changed numerous times to be in line with the times. That is what a real work place does. It does not become stagnant, it changes, the world is about change. So if you want these kids to be ready for the work world you want them to be used to change, you want them to challenge the norm, they are using their minds it is a good thing. If the school board does update the dress code I am sure it is going to be in good taste. But even if these shorts were two inches longer, is that still going to be a distraction for the boys. We need to be empowering our girls and saying they need to dress a certain way so the boys won't notice them is wrong!

  • Lynda Smith
    May 14, 2014 - 15:36

    I am blown away by the apparent fact that the school is punishing girls for being a "Distraction" for the boys AND the male staff.... SERIOUSLY people????? If there are male staff there that are attracted to 13-15 year old girls get them out!!!!!!! The issue is NOT the length of her shorts it is the rational behind hte punishment. There is nothing you can make girls wear that will stop boys from being atrtracted to them.. It's called puberty! Get over yourselves. The shorts showed no private parts! And ask for boys wearing pants that showed their underwear, holy smokes! They have been doing that WITHOUT CONSEQUENCES OF ANY KIND for the past 10 years. I remember getting on my nephews back when he was 13 years old to "pull up your pants"... not because it was distracting but because I thought they would fall to his knees and trip him! These girls are NOT doing anything WRONG. WOW!

  • Kim
    May 14, 2014 - 06:35

    The shorts are too short clearly. There are rules and restrictions every where you go. Get used to it. Teach your child there are rules to follow. May not like em but oh well! Get used to them. Since I last checked the weather isn't even warm enough for clothing like this. This is ridiculous that this has even been brought to the daily news! Get a grip parents

  • moral outrage
    May 13, 2014 - 21:39

    Dear School Board, Please do not change your student (and staff) clothing policy. I think you have it correct, given how you've outraged the people who want kids to wear inappropriate clothes. In fact, I would advocate moving all students at NS public schools to wear a common UNIFORM. That would be a wonderful way to eliminate students trying to ''out sex'' the other, ''out spend'' the other, etc. and would lead to less teasing.

  • Helen
    May 13, 2014 - 17:14

    No matter where these young people go in life there will be rules and restrictions. The rules are put in place for everyone and not a select few. Short shorts should be unacceptable in school and these parents should support the school boards decision to implement a decent dress code. Short shorts have no more place in school then bikini tops and plunging necklines. Definately inappropriate!

  • Annette
    May 13, 2014 - 15:01

    I signed the petition today because I believe that our school teachers and administrators need to be able to use their discretion and common sense when it comes to appropriate clothing being worn to a work environment. We need to expect our children to treat school as their "job" and to go dressed appropriately. I signed because there are plenty of shorts that fall mid thigh that are quite nice and they should be permitted to wear. There are also others that are the same length that shouldn't even come off the clothing production lines. Some parents don't have enough common sense or desire to help teach their children to make appropriate decisions and that's when the school has to be able to step in and hold the children to a higher standard. We need to teach our children to respect themselves as well as others. And as a side note, the mother of this petition stated that her daughter's shorts fell almost mid thigh. I don't know what she is measuring but the shorts on the girl in the picture are lucky to fall 3 inches from her crotch!!!

  • Sam
    May 13, 2014 - 14:36

    School is supposed to be a learning environment, not unlike the employment environment; so having reasonable expectations on a dress code is not surprising. Dress the way you want after work and after school, what's so difficult about that?

  • webber
    May 13, 2014 - 14:25

    school uniforms would solve this problem put all the children on equal ground no one is richer or poor , male , female who looks good who don't it would be cost effective to parents who children feel the need to buy what is in style everyone will dress the same with no grey area with what is appropriate to wear to school to learn

  • missy
    May 13, 2014 - 11:55

    Hmmm ........ I really do not understand this mother's issue other than a type of free speech kind of thing or a right to express themselves. However ................ as I see typical (some) teenage girls out and about I often think to myself how they get out of the house past their parents dressed the way they are. Short tight lu lu lemons shorts are the norm and little skin tight dresses that are barely long enough to cover their behinds ( for goodness sake, do not bend over to pick up something you may have dropped) ....... I don't get it. How do parents think this is appropriate ? Or is it a day in the age that parents have lost their voice of authority and kids do basically as they please. I do know that some boys may wear muscle shirts or jeans that are below their underwear line, but what if they were wearing tight short shorts ( ick) . This is a non topic. It should be a " no brainer".

  • Lisa
    May 13, 2014 - 11:12

    This is a parenting issue, not a school board issue. I think the schools needs to focus on their job: teaching academics to our children. They have stuck their noses into what we as parents feed our children, the morals we teach them, and now how to dress our children. Yet they are failing our children in their ability to teach the curriculum, forcing the need for parents to spend thousands on 3rd party tutoring companies. If only they would do their job and let parents do theirs. Children have only a few ways to express their personality, and one of them is through their appearance. This is how they learn how other people in life react to them. To stifle this is just training our children to conform to other's expectations and ignore their own individuality. I am 41 and I wear shorts shorter than those. I don't get comments nor do I get ogled by men for it. Let kids be kids. It's summer, and kids just want to wear shorts.

  • JustMe
    May 13, 2014 - 10:40

    This is absurd. As adults we all work in environments have have dress codes, and we adhere to them or else we would not be employed. What message are you sending your children? The child was told her shorts were too short, so just don't wear those shorts again. It really hasn't even been warm enough to wear shorts yet...but 50 junior high school girls have their shorts on already. Here's an idea, teach your daughter to have some modesty. Short shorts have their place, at the beach, on the volleyball court, not in the classroom. There are rules for reasons, and schools need to absolutely have dress code guidelines. Asking kids to wear shorts that meet their fingertips is not a stretch, and the very fact that a mother of Junior High aged girl is so offended by this that she feels the need to contact the news disturbs me. I would want my junior high aged daughter to cover up a little. If these are the battles the parents wish to fight, to allow you kid to wear skimpier clothes to school, I may just loose my faith all together. How about we focus on the literacy rates in Nova Scotia instead of how skimpy your 13 year old girls are allowed to dress at school.

  • Disgusted
    May 13, 2014 - 10:29

    Maybe if they get rid of the dress code the kids can wear bikinis to school too! These kids are going to have to deal with rules and dress codes fore their entire adult lives. Let's teach them to respect the rules and themselves and wear appropriate clothing to school. Save your short shorts for the beach! And stop trying to turn this into a "female rights" issue. I'm sure this girl would be equally as uncomfortable if a male showed up to school wearing shorts that length. She has her fingers clenched in the photo. Which means they definitely didn't reach her fingertips. Follow the rules. Wear longer shorts. And mom? How about teaching your daughter to respect the rules instead of making excuses for her. She'll thank you later. I promise.

  • irna
    May 13, 2014 - 09:51

    How and what to wear is everyone's else right but have to be match with situation and the purpose what we go to somewhere for. School is place to dig education, make people smart, not for fashion so it would be wiser if short is wore at somewhere else. Should respect to our self before ask someone else to respect us. Neat and clean is best way to wear to school or work place area. Cant 100% blame the male student if they do something unrespectful to female student because female student distracted male student indirectly. It is different case when they wear short in volley team. they play the game, have to move, run, so need light clothes. thats no problem.

    • A Girl
      May 13, 2014 - 13:09

      I think you can absolutely blame a male student 100% if they behave disrespectfully toward a female. We are ALL responsible for OWN actions. That includes boys too.

  • sense of entitlement
    May 13, 2014 - 09:48

    The mother says: ''I told her that I completely disagreed and that my daughter would continue to wear those shorts and her other ones to school.'' And just where do I begin with such a wonderful example of PARENTING and accepting RESPONSIBILITY ??? Oh wait, it's completely absent from this individual. Grow up. Accept that there are rules in our society. Follow them and you don't get in trouble. Who are you to question the school's authority? It is not your decision to make. Follow the rules. I suppose you also question speed limits on highways? How do you think an RCMP officer would respond to you if you were to say ''I completely disagree with the speed limit and I will continue to drive at any speed I find personally acceptable.'' How do you think that would go, huh? Please drop the pathetic sense of entitlement that you have adopted and seem to be passing on to your children. It is not healthy for them, for you, nor for our society.

    • good gawd
      May 13, 2014 - 11:46

      Are you for real? Conform, conform, conform! Follow the rules! Be a sheep! Who am I to question the school's authority??? A PERSON WHO PAYS TAXES! THAT'S WHO. Why do you think it's such a great idea to pay thousands of dollars in your hard-earned money to have the entitlement to follow someone else's rules? Don't you dare let your child have a personality, make sure they behave in the same manner as everybody else so they aren't individual. Have fun raising your robots.

    • good gawd
      May 13, 2014 - 12:36

      Conform, Conform, Conform!! Follow the rules! Be a sheep! She has EVERY RIGHT to question the school's authority because her children go there, and because she pays taxes. Have fun raising your robots. Make sure they learn they are not important unless accepted by everyone else in the world. Bury their self-worth under society's conformity. See how happy they end up in life. See how healthy that is for them.

  • Mod Flanders
    May 13, 2014 - 09:11

    Please won't somebody think of the children!!!!

  • xgeojoe
    May 13, 2014 - 08:13

    What about the girls volleyball team? They wear short shorts when representing the school in front of a crowd of guests. See team photo at http://tjh.ccrsb.ca/sites/default/files/Nov,%202013%20revised-1.pdf

    • lori
      May 13, 2014 - 15:03

      Just viewed the photo, and you have a valid point. Those team shorts are VERY short and the school board allowed the girls to wear them.

    • Equal Treatment
      May 14, 2014 - 11:57

      ...YOU make the most valid point....if the rule is a rule...then for the volleyball team to wear such shorts if they are allegedly banned from student attire is blatant "inconsistent application" of the rules by the school administration ...that breaches each individual's Charter Right to EQUAL TREATMENT UNDER LAW --- that is what is not acceptable ---rules that make no sense and rules that are enforced without justification --- there are two options under law...change the girls and boys sports uniforms (before the next game or practice) --or allow the girls and boys to be individuals and wear what they feel self assured enough to wear --- this is about passing the test of equality under law ...obviously the CCRSB rules FAIL that test!!!...They should suspend themselves for that!!!

  • Parley Mosher
    May 13, 2014 - 07:53

    Why is this even news? Mothers don't let your daughters grow up to be victims. Take responsibility and be firm. It's great for the beach, but school is for learning and the minds of young men need to on their school work. The whole of society has become much too lax and we are willing to accept anything.

    • mother of a girl
      May 13, 2014 - 09:56

      I would like to know if these last 2 posts were from mothers of boys or girls? because as a mother of a girl, I think that shorts is not the issue!! It is the school board sending home only girls for inappropriate attire. What about the boys with their pants hanging so low that everyone can see their underwear? Or muscle shirt? or ball hats in class? If what the mother in this article is saying is true, it was strictly about the girls wearing shorts!!!

  • Motherofmiddleschoolchild
    May 13, 2014 - 07:52

    What I can't understand is why are parents complaining about the school board trying to protect their children. We took our son to a middle school dance and the girls outside definitely left nothing to the imagination. What is wrong with protecting innocence!!!

    • KMacDonald
      May 13, 2014 - 09:08

      The school Board should have a dress policy however the policy should be consistent and have valid reasons. Actual measurements should be in place and not the arbitrary of “reach to end of finger tips”. Girls are not responsible for the reactions of the school male population. To place that on a girl is to perpetuate the rape culture. Legs are a distraction so cover them up. If long hair is a distraction should we follow the rule of thumb and cover it up? What about a beautiful female face? Should it be covered up to prevent a boy’s distraction? This is a slippery slope indeed. A dress code is valid but the reasoning for the current dress code is disgraceful.

    • Nagree
      May 13, 2014 - 21:22

      I agree KMacDonald!!! Everyone should be treated equally. When I was in school we were only allowed shorts that went to our knees & no tank tops/muscle shirts. The way the school went about this is all wrong. The rules should be known to the kids and the kids need to respect them. School is a place for learning, so can we please focus on the curriculum!