Mother Jackie Welch said this is the outfit worn by her daughter on the day school officials made her wear a jersey over her clothes at South Meridian Elementary. (Contributed photo)

Girls were told certain clothes ‘sometimes distract the boys’: B.C. 11-year-old

South Surrey student Madison Welch ‘embarrassed’ to be covered up with school’s jersey

From Madison Welch’s perspective, the message to Grade 6 and 7 girls at South Meridian Elementary last week was clear: shorter shorts, crop tops and spaghetti straps “sometimes distract the boys.”

But the 11-year-old says it was a surprise and “really embarrassing” when she and a friend were singled out soon after its delivery and made to cover up with school jerseys – Madison, for wearing a top her grandmother had bought her, that left her shoulders exposed; her friend, for “wearing a T-shirt just to her pant line.”

READ MORE: South Surrey elementary students cautioned about clothing

READ MORE: Outfit covered up by South Surrey school officials ‘purchased by grandmother’

Not only did Madison not have any inkling that her outfit violated the school’s dress code, but she said the girls had also just been told, as part of the same message, that the jersey rule for inappropriate dress wasn’t to take effect so immediately.

“They had said the rules didn’t start until the next day,” Madison told Peace Arch News Friday. “Everyone was confused as to why we had to wear one.”

PAN reported on the issue online last Thursday, after parents took to social media – first in a closed Facebook group, then in response to PAN’s online article – to share concerns and opinions as to how it was handled.

District spokesman Doug Strachan confirmed at that time that the Grade 6 and 7 boys were not included in the dress-code discussion, and that parents were not given advance notice that the girls would be spoken to.

He also said, after consulting with the school’s principal, that the girls “were not told” that certain clothing could be a distraction. And, he said, the jersey measure was “not an institutionalized approach.”

Madison, who turned 11 in September, said she understands that some outfits simply aren’t appropriate for school and that “it should matter if it’s super-inappropriate.”

“But if it’s off the shoulder, showing the shoulder a little, that should be OK,” she said.

A reminder about the school’s dress code was included in the school’s May 2018 newsletter.

“Children need to be properly dressed for attendance at school. Appropriate dress is primarily the responsibility of parents. If in doubt, be conservative,” it states, in part.

“Our only guideline is that dress be in good taste. Clothing should not be offensive or distracting. For example, shorts are acceptable providing that they are not too short. Tops should not reveal bare back, shoulders, or midriff and undergarments should not be visible.”

A photo of the outfit Madison had been wearing that day was forwarded to Strachan Friday morning via email, after her mother, Jackie Welch, posted it to Facebook.

Asked for comment regarding whether the district agrees it was inappropriate for school, and to respond to Madison’s assertion that she and her peers were indeed told certain outfits “sometimes the distract the boys,” his response was limited.

“The principal says there was a very positive and fruitful meeting on a school dress code, involving the Parent Advisory Council executive and parents, that will aim at balancing individual liberty, social convention, functionality, community standards and school community values,” Strachan said by email late Friday afternoon, referring to a parent meeting held Thursday evening at the 16244 13 Ave. school.

“The conversations will continue.”

Parent Derek Thornton – who first brought the matter to PAN’s attention – said Friday that he still felt the matter was “not handled very well by the school,” though he said Thursday’s meeting brought some relief.

“I feel comfortable/confident that another student will not be made to wear a jersey to cover up and that it sounds like any discussions regarding attire will be done with the parents and not during school/learning hours,” he told PAN via email.

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

Just Posted

COLUMN | Creating a “community of practice” inspires

Art Matters by columnist Sarah Zimmerman

Hockey puck with nails found at Terrace Sportsplex Arena

City believes it has already caused $4,000 of damage

Kitselas First Nation receives $1.2M boost for apprenticeship development program

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education announces $7.5M for six Indigenous training programs

Terrace Skating Club takes home 24 medals from regional championships

Skaters claim top spot for fifth year in a row

VIDEO: Mass coronavirus quarantines seen in China won’t happen in Canada, authorities say

‘If a case comes here, and it is probably … it will still be business as normal’

Province’s oldest practising lawyer shares advice at her 100th birthday party

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

B.C. comic wins judgment after club owner slaps cellphone out of his hands

Incident happened last summer when Garrett Clark was performing in Abbotsford

Mayors call for ‘calmness’ as highway rockslide cuts Tofino, Ucluelet off from supplies

Ministry of transportation expects to open road for “essential travel only” from noon-8 p.m. Friday.

Owner surrenders dog suffering from days-old gunshot wound to B.C. SPCA

The dog was also found to be emaciated and suffering from a flea infestation

B.C. man dies after police called for ‘firearms injury’ in rural Alberta

Victim is 30-year-old Greater Victoria man, say police

Most Read