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

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Duncan’s Knights of Columbus hand out cheques to a slew of deserving organizations in an online event Nov. 8, 2020. (Submitted)
Duncan Knights of Columbus hand cheques to lucky 13 in virtual event

Another historic first for the Knights was to have two area mayors join the presentation

Changes to the holidays due to COVID-19 will be a challenge for people with dementia. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Webinars aim to help those with dementia approach holidays

“The holidays can present difficulties for people living with dementia for a multitude of reasons”

Theresa Bodger at the Duncan Curling Club, displaying the championship trophy and a photo of her mom, Georgina Falt. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Cowichan Alzheimer’s fundraiser surpasses $65,000 since inception

Courier editor and his wife overwhelmed by continued support

“Jeff Abbott sinks in a mass of mud where a tributary to Coon Creek earlier ran. The creek supplies 60 families in Youbou with drinking water.” (Lake News, Nov. 19, 1980)
Flashback: Winter tires, winter weather, watershed watch

Remember these stories from Lake Cowichan

Duncan’s Callum Davison is up for a bursary from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. (Submitted)
Duncan golfer Callum Davison up for national bursary

20-year-old finished fifth in Canada Life Series this summer

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

This 2019 photo provided by The ALS Association shows Pat Quinn. Quinn, a co-founder of the viral ice bucket challenge, died Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, at the age of 37. (Scott Kauffman/The ALS Association via AP)
Co-founder of viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dies at 37

Pat Quinn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti speaks with the media following party caucus in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental health as grounds for assisted death is likely temporary: Lametti

Senators also suggested the exclusion renders the bill unconstitutional

Claudio Mastronardi, Toronto branch manager at Carmichael Engineering, is photographed at the company’s offices in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. As indoor air quality becomes a major concern in places of business, HVAC companies are struggling to keep up with demand for high quality filtration systems. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Business is booming for HVAC companies as commercial buildings see pandemic upgrades

‘The demand right now is very high. People are putting their health and safety ahead of cost’

Bank of Montreal, located on Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver. (Google Maps)
Heiltsuk man files human rights complaint against Vancouver police, BMO after bank arrest

Pair remains distraught after employee falsely reports fraud in progress leading to their arrest

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP Cpl. Cory Lepine pictured at BC Livestock Producers Co. in Kamloops, Nov. 16. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Meet B.C.’s only cowboy cop; a voice for the livestock industry

Cpl. Cory Lepine serves as a bridge between the law and those who make a living off the land

BCHL
BCHL pushes back season start due to provincial health orders

The delay is minimal, just six days, for now. But the league is open to starting up after Christmas

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

Most Read