Students Protest Ottawa Catholic High School Over Mass Enforcement of Dress Code

Several hundred students gathered outside an Ottawa Catholic high school on Friday to protest mass enforcement of the dress code the day before.

The effort by staff at Béatrice-Desloges High School in Orleans outraged students, who said the action was unfair and appeared to be aimed at female students.

“I’m frustrated,” said Melisande Ouellette, a 17-year-old student in grade 11 at the school.

Ouellette said she was in math class Thursday morning when the school’s principal, Marie-Claude Veilleux, arrived to enforce the dress code. Ouellette said Veilleux asked all the girls to stand up and told Ouellette the length of her shorts was “inappropriate.”

“It was really embarrassing to stand up in front of everyone and walk out just because I was wearing jean shorts.”

Ouellette said she was sent to the office to wait until someone could bring her different clothes.

“[Staff] He walked into every class, knocked on every door and told the girls to ‘get up,’” Ouellette said.

Reece Bloodworth, another 17-year-old student, said more than 100 students were pulled from class on Thursday.

She said some girls who were sent home to change had their cell phones confiscated so they could return to school.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous, inappropriate and hurtful honestly,” Bloodworth said.

“We were just trying to learn and we got interrupted.”

Students gathered outside the school to protest shortly after 11 a.m. Friday.

Ottawa police said they were called to the school around 11:30 a.m. One person was arrested at the scene for breaking and entering, but no charges were filed. They say that the arrested person is not a student at the school. The protest ended before 1:00 p.m. on Friday.

The school’s dress code states that students must wear “clean, decent, and appropriate” clothing. It states that shorts and skirts must be mid-thigh, and no tank tops or crop tops may be worn.

Temperatures in Ottawa hit 30.5 C on Thursday, the hottest day the city has seen so far this year, data from Environment Canada shows. Ouellette said several male students wearing tank tops weren’t asked to change and weren’t subject to the same public dress code test.

A spokesperson for the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE), Ontario’s largest Franco-English school board, said in an email that they have begun a process to revise school dress codes so that they are non-gender and gender-neutral. gender. discriminatory last November.

“This collaborative exercise allows the Board and its schools to consider issues and concerns related to the current or recommended dress code.”

They also said Education Superintendent Jason Dupuis and Human Resources Executive Director Laurie-Eve Bergeron met with staff and students Friday to discuss the incidents.

“The administration is taking the complaints and allegations received regarding the approach taken yesterday very seriously,” a spokesperson for the board said in the email.

The school’s principal, Veilleux, could not be reached for comment.

The Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) requires all students to wear a uniform.

A spokesperson for the Toronto board said in an email that the school’s current dress reflects the mission of the board, providing a safe and welcoming learning environment.

“All TCDSB elementary schools have a dress code that consists of any combination of white and navy. Enforcement of local dress codes is the responsibility of the principal.”

With files of Isabel Teotonio.

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