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School board to hear report on attire policy for teachers tonight

A special meeting of the HDSB board asked for policy to be drawn up by March 1 in response to ongoing controversy surrounding trans high school teacher
Halton District School Board is reviewing the dress code policy for staff after controversy surrounding a high school teacher who presents in class with large prosthetic breasts.

A interim report on a proposed teachers' dress code for local public schools is expected to be presented at tonight's (Feb. 15) Halton District School Board (HDSB) meeting.

The board called for the report at a special meeting held last month in response to ongoing controversy surrounding a trans teacher at Oakville Trafalgar High School who has drawn international headlines for presenting at school wearing extremely large prosthetic breasts and skimpy clothing.

The matter drew international attention after photos and videos of the teacher were distributed on social media by students last September.

Protests were held outside the school and HDSB has received more than a dozen bomb threats.

Parents concerned about the matter have organized an advocacy group called Students First Ontario and hired a lawyer. They say the rights of parents and students to ask questions, voice concerns and be engaged in conversations that affect students' interests and well-being have been largely ignored.

The board has backed the teacher, citing its "commitment to human rights remains rooted in our core values and commitment to each and every student and staff who identifies as a member of an underserved and underrepresented group" and previously stating a professional dress policy for teachers could not be developed. However, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce commented publicly in December that the board has the tools to address the matter and should do so.

A unanimous motion was passed on Jan. 13 calling for HDSB Director Curtis Ennis to "develop a professionalism policy which outlines the HDSB’s expectations of all staff members, including the requirement to maintain appropriate and professional standards of dress and decorum in the classroom."

Students First representative Celina Close told BurlingtonToday the group is hoping to hear a policy that will impose professional standards of dress. 

"This will ensure that students are in an environment that is conducive to learning, (where) safety is not a concern and their well-being is forefront," she said.

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Tania Theriault

About the Author: Tania Theriault

Tania is a print and broadcast journalist with over 15 years experience who has recently returned to Canada and is keen to learn all there is to know about Burlington and its welcoming people
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