Friday, May 09, 2014

What Is This? The 1950s???

I have no idea who the parties are behind Airdrie's Footprints For Learning Academy, but someone needs to give them a shake and educate them about a few things regarding gender and sexuality.

Their dress code is something out of the 1950s, with rigid gender roles assumed, and strict rules about who can wear what:
7.  Only one set of conservative earrings (pierced or otherwise) may be worn (by girls only) with one earring for each ear lobe.  They must be subtle and non-distracting.  No other visible piercings are allowed.  All other earrings are to be left out while on school property or at a school event.  Boys may not wear earrings.
You have got to be kidding me.  What exactly does "conservative earrings" mean?  Talk about a vague and undefined concept.

Since when in the last 40 odd years has it been inappropriate for males to wear earrings?  That's been pretty normal in my world since at least the 1970s, and widespread since the 1980s.  Who the heck cares if a boy is wearing earrings or not?

But it gets better.  Much better.
17.  Acceptable clothing items for girls:
Shirts, T-shirts, skirts, shorts, jumpers, dresses, pants, shorts, modesty shorts, sweaters.
18.  Acceptable clothing items for boys:
Shirts, T-shirts, shorts, pants, sweaters.  Boys may not wear skirts, dresses, jumpers or other clothing and accessories specifically intended for girls.
Wow, talk about rigid gender assumptions.  What is this school going to do with the first Trans* children that happen to cross their threshold?

Besides that, the notion of "specifically intended for girls" is pretty ambiguous these days.  I see plenty of girls wearing all sorts of things, and equally boys are becoming much more flexible in their dress as well.  The notion of "girls things" and "boys things" that existed in some idealized past really don't seem to have the same clarity any longer.
But Alberta Liberal education critic Kent Hehr was quick to point out even public schools like Footprints receive a portion of their operating funds from public coffers. The provincial education ministry provided nearly a $1 million to the Footprints for the 2013-14 school year, about 70 per cent of its total operating budget. 
Hehr noted freedom of expression through clothing choice is not a crime. 
“It’s clear — once you take public money you have to follow the law of the land and develop policies accordingly,” Hehr said. “it doesn’t appear to me that this school has in this case.”
So ... taxpayers paid 70% of this school's operating budget? ... and they are engaging in what I will call subtle homophobia / transphobia by implementing policies like this?  That I have problems with. It has been a long fight in Alberta to begin the process of breaking down the systemic discrimination that LGBT folk experience every day, and it is less than acceptable to me that a taxpayer funded "private school" (it's legally a private school - if it's taking taxpayer dollars, it's _NOT_ private) should be able to create these kinds of ridiculous policies and get away with it.

To the owners of Footprints For Learning Academy, I suggest to you that it would be appropriate to revisit your dress code and related policies.  It's time to lose the destructive rigidity of your policies and replace them with something a little more flexible and reasonable.  Trust me, a boy wearing earrings isn't going to end the world ... and if one walks through the door wearing a dress one day it might just broaden yours a little.

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