An Ottawa school board unveiled the latest version of its dress code this week, saying "all students have the right to express themselves in school through their choice of clothing, hairstyles, jewelry, and accessories.”
The Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) shared the update on June 6 as part of its Safe Schools Policies. The new dress code will allow students to wear spaghetti straps, halter tops, midriff-baring shirts, ripped jeans, bandanas, and hats, along with other specified items of clothing.
In a statement on its website, OCDSB said students have "the right to express themselves through their dress without fear of body-shaming, bias, or discrimination."
Under the new rules, students must "cover the groin, buttocks and nipples with material that is not see-through or transparent." Students must also wear health and safety-appropriate footwear and ensure their faces are not covered.
For graphics, students can't wear clothing that "could be construed as promoting or symbolizing hate or discrimination, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, illegal activity, profanity, nudity, pornography; or that incites violence or harassment; or threatens health and safety."
The board's code of conduct notes that some accommodations will be considered in line with the Ontario Human Rights Code and that dress code violations should be reported in a non-discriminatory manner.
Students can't be suspended for their clothing unless consultations have been made with the Superintendent of Instruction and the principal.
The announcement comes just one month after a neighbouring school board made headlines when several students were subjected to a dress code blitz over the length of their skirts and shorts at École secondaire catholique Béatrice-Desloges. Students protested on May 13, and the French Catholic school board later apologized.
The OCDSB’s student dress code was last amended on May 31 and approved in April, but the school board said the process for developing it actually started back in 2019.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated the school board launched the new dress code because of a short skirt controversy. It has been updated with accurate information.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.