Boys in Quebec stand up against a sexist system

Jessica Sarrrach ‘24 News Editor

All around the world, dress codes are a staple of schooling systems. Whether it is rules pertaining to acceptable skirt lengths, what amount of shoulder is acceptable to be shown, or rules on how low the first rip on your jeans must be, dress codes affect predominantly  female students. In recent times, many have claimed school dress codes to be sexist and objectifying, and those who are fed up are ready to take charge for a change, including a particular group of individuals in Quebec.

School dress codes are often an oversight of the schooling system. Most schools push them out, and students follow them blindly, dialing down their individuality in order to be considered acceptable by school rules. Though, when looking at school dress codes, it becomes apparent how outdated and sexist the system truly is. 

In most schools, dress code rules only apply to the female half of the population, and when asked why the rules are in place, it is said to make outfits less “distracting.” By using this as an explanation for dress codes, schools are  implying that it is a woman’s job to dress “appropriately” in order to keep the male half of the population under control, and able to learn. Though it’s not only women who are getting fed up with this administration, many men are starting to feel outraged too.

 On Oct. 9, Quebec student Zach Paulin disclosed his ideas to protest his school’s dress code. The goals of the dress code protest were to eliminate the dress code’s sexist, homophobic, and transphobic tendencies. So when in desperate need of change, Paulin began scheming, and his goal became to gather a group of guys who would wear skirts to school with him to make a statement that they are against dress codes.

When Paulin planned the protest, he never imagined it would get so big. In his initial plan, he asked 30 of his classmates to wear skirts with him, but word got around and nearly 100 male students showed up to school wearing skirts for the protest. As soon as the protest got media coverage, the supporters skyrocketed. Supporters from different schools all around Quebec showed their support by wearing skirts to school.

One student, Colin Renaud, fought the system by showing up to his school, Villa Maria, in a skirt. Although his school had mandates stating that skirts and pants for the dress code were interchangeable, and the school made claims to be highly progressive, Renaud was still harassed by hall monitors, being called offensive slurs and was eventually taken to the office. When the school’s assistant director found out how staff was treating Renaud, he was appalled and let him go. The treatment Renaud received sparked a revolution in the school, and many of his classmates joined in the protest.

Within the next few days, Renaud gained a lot of media attention, with his instagram post on the situation getting 30,000 likes. With all of the overwhelming support, he made plans to wear a skirt again on the following Tuesday, along with his fellow classmates.

Though Renaud doesn’t view a skirt as a fashion staple for himself, he wants to make sure those that do have the option to express themselves. In one interview Renaud said, “I’m not really attached to skirts; I don’t feel like wearing one everyday. But I respect people who do. As a symbol, I will wear it with pleasure.” Renaud’s stance on the subject is one that reflects his caring nature for those around him. Even though he doesn’t want to strut in a skirt, he feels it’s his responsibility to help those who do, whether they be a male or female.

Though the protests may have taken place in Canada, dress code inequalities are just as prominent in the United States. Freshmen Stevan Bojicic said, “I think it’s a good thing that they’re doing this [protesting dress codes], showing that [men and women] are equal. And if boys don’t have dress codes, girls shouldn’t either.” As Bojicic demonstrates, the fight for female and male equality is at a high right now, and it will take both men and women to fix the system.The Canadian boys will continue to where their skirts with pride, and hopefully the spirit will spread because these protests are just a start for work that needs to be done to secure equality.

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