Ottawa students denounce ‘humiliating’ enforcement of dress code

About 500 students came out of their classrooms, placards in hand, to demand explanations as to how this physical examination took place. The students invaded the floor and Avenue Provence, located in front of the school.


Students held up signs during the protest.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Angie Bonenfant

Police officers were quickly called in by the management of the establishment to ensure security. A young man, who is not a Béatrice-Desloges student, was handcuffed and placed under arrest by officers. He was escorted off the school grounds and later released.

>Police were called in as reinforcements during the protest.>

Police were called in as reinforcements during the protest.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Angie Bonenfant

Burned and angry students

After having had discussions with employees and following the appearance of good weather, the management of Béatrice-Desloges secondary school proceeded, Thursday, to a blitz during which staff impromptuly checked the clothing of their students.

Many students complained about the way the management proceeded to make these checks. They say they are degrading and humiliating.

They were reportedly asked to lean forward and touch their toes to check if underwear was visible.

>Two young girls are wearing clothes that are too short.>

The administration of École Secondaire Béatrice-Desloges deems that certain outfits are inappropriate.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Angie Bonenfant

Some students claim that they were asked to raise their leg at 90 degrees and used a ruler to measure the length of their skirts and shorts.

Other students say they were bothered during a school exam to assess their clothing and had their cellphones confiscated from students who did not follow school rules.

>Two young girls are holding signs>

Noudyna Pierre and Marie Frangie denounce the application of the dress code of their school.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Angie Bonenfant

Girls, mostly

The students allege that the staff acted in a discriminatory manner by selecting mostly girls when checking them.

What they did to me yesterday was unacceptable. It made me anxious. I was in shockcomplained Ava Cléroux, a ninth-grader who was the subject of such an examination. I saw fifty girls [alignées dans le corridor] — all girls, no guys — and there were a lot of them crying.

>Alyssa Cousineau, Camilia Richards and Ava Cléroux denounce>

Alyssa Cousineau, Camilia Richards and Ava Cléroux denounce “the blitz” carried out in their school on Thursday.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Angie Bonenfant

They made everyone in the class stand up, but they only looked at the girls, and it was a gentleman, not a lady who was looking at us. So it made us really uncomfortableadds Danica Balsavage, 17 years old. It was really sexist.

I think the dress code should change, as it only applies to girls. »

A quote from Camilia Richards, grade 9 student

Alyssa Cousineau argues that the school’s dress code is discriminatory because, on the one hand, mid-thigh shorts for girls are almost non-existent in stores and, on the other hand, some pants may look shorter on girls who have long legs.

>Students demonstrate in front of Béatrice-Desloges secondary school.>

Students demonstrate in front of Béatrice-Desloges secondary school.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Angie Bonenfant

Students report that management targeted certain overweight people because their clothing created more distraction than that of a thin person.

Being told that because you’re overweight you shouldn’t wear shorts, that’s not something we want in our learning environmentdenounces Sophie Browning, a student in ninth grade. It’s shocking.

It’s not the dress code that’s shocking, but the way they went about enforcing the rules. »

A quote from Sylvie Nisula, mother of a student at Béatrice-Desloges

I was so disappointed, surprised, enraged just to think that they did this to the studentslaunched still in shock Sylvie Nisula, the mother of a student from Béatrice-Desloges, who came to attend the demonstration.

We leave our children here. Managers are supposed to encourage an end to bullying and sexism, but that’s what our kids experienced, yesterday, and by management at that!

There will be changes, the board promises

The protest, which was scheduled for 11:35 a.m., lasted well beyond lunchtime. Around 1:30 p.m., the students showed no signs of wanting to leave the premises.

Jason Dupuis, the superintendent of education at the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE), dispatched to the scene, finally addressed the demonstrators and made a mea culpa which seems to have appeased the spirits.

>A man stands behind a microphone.>

Jason Dupuis, the superintendent of education at the Center-East Catholic School Board (CECCE)

Photo: Radio-Canada / Angie Bonenfant

We have just spoken to the students to tell them that their voice had been heard and that for what happened yesterday, at the level of the blitz, there are things to correct and rectifydid he declare.

It is important to tell the students that they have the right to demonstrate. It is a fundamental right in Canada. We also wanted to tell them that we are collaborating. »

A quote from Jason Dupuis, Superintendent of Education, CECCE

There are definitely going to be changes — that’s for sure — in the way the code is enforcedpromised the superintendent.

There are things in the way we do the checks that will change. If there are regulations that need to change, we will look at this with the administration, the parents and the students to make the necessary changes.

The board is still investigating to determine the circumstances surrounding the physical examination conducted on Thursday.

The article is in French

Tags: Ottawa students denounce humiliating enforcement dress code


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