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Motion to change school dress codes in Chilliwack faces backlash

Last Updated Mar 12, 2019 at 11:05 pm PDT

Trustee Heather Maahs addresses colleagues at a Chilliwack school board meeting on March 12, 2019. (Source: YouTube/Chilliwack School District)

The motion was brought forward at a school board meeting by trustee Willow Reichelt

It has been sent back to the policy advisory committee for review and input

CHILLIWACK (NEWS 1130) – Plans to scrap dress codes at schools in Chilliwack have been put on pause, following backlash from some trustees.

The motion was brought forward at a school board meeting on Tuesday night by trustee Willow Reichelt, who says dress codes unfairly target young women.

RELATED: Are school dress codes discriminatory?

But some, like trustee Heather Maahs, say dress codes are needed to keep girls safe.

“We cannot afford to say ‘free for all,'” Maahs said at the meeting. “There are students out there who are needy, who will dress in provocative ways, looking for the wrong kind of attention.”

Maahs added dress codes would prevent sexual predators from singling out “needy” students, saying modesty is needed in classrooms.

“We just cannot tolerate anything less than modest attire for the benefit of those students,” she said.

That was a sentiment echoed by trustee Darrell Furgason, who said teachers don’t want to see female students wearing what he calls “inappropriate” clothing.

“Girls with cleavage exposed – you may think that’s their right,” he said. “There are many needy girls from families who may be victims of voyeurism.”

Furgason says it’s not up to schools to teach boys not to take part in predatory behaviour.

“The school is not the place to experiment with that idea,” he said.

Reichelt believes that instead of having to worry about their clothing, young women should be engaged with their studies, and not whether or not men approve of their clothes.

“It’s not up to girls and women to cover their bodies to somehow make life easier for men and boys,” she told NEWS 1130. “It’s up to each individual person to manage their own distractions and manage their own desire.”

The motion has been sent back to the policy advisory committee for review and input.