Principal says school dress code puts 'every male in this building in an awkward situation'

A high school principal has apologized for comparing dress codes to the #MeToo movement. (Photo: Getty Images)
A high school principal has apologized for comparing dress codes to the #MeToo movement. (Photo: Getty Images)

A high school principal who told female students that dress code violations put “every male in this building in an awkward situation” says his comments were a mistake.

“The administrators have openly acknowledged they made mistakes in how they dealt with their uniform concerns and they have apologized to all of the students in the classroom,” read a statement sent to Yahoo Lifestyle from Brian Beal, director of education at the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board. “It was never the principal’s intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable, and he is working to resolve any issues that students and parents have. As a board, we are all committed to learning and growing from this situation. Moving forward, we will be asking our principals to initiate discussions and review their current dress code practices, which will include consultation with parents. This situation will certainly be a starting point for conversations in each of our respective school communities.”

On Monday, a 12th-grade student at St. Theresa’s Catholic High School in Ontario, Canada, surreptitiously recorded principal Bern Tate during a uniform check during which he and vice principal Megan Clarke asked girls to stand up in class to assess the length of their kilts, according to CTV News Barrie.

On the recording, a woman presumed to be Clarke tells a student of her skirt, “Yours is fine” while Tate says, “It’s like the #MeToo movement. You’re putting every male in this building in an awkward situation.”

Later, student Hannah Arbour told the news station, “I was really caught off guard by what was happening because I didn’t expect that to ever happen.”

Another student said of Tate, “And then he was like, ‘We get it, legs are pretty,’” adding, “We were like, uh, that’s uncomfortable. We’re underage females in a Catholic school — why is that comment being made by someone of authority?”

Others were put off by Tate’s “legs are pretty” comment.

Parent Kim Mason told CTV News Barrie, “Talk about the skirts, tell them what to wear, but do not mention #metoo in that same context. They’re really implying that these girls are asking for it by showing their legs.”

On Wednesday, Tate and Clarke apologized to students. “Mr. Tate has said it was a poor choice of words and that it should never have happened,” a school spokesperson told the news station. “And I would concur with that. We would never want to devalue any of our boys and girls.”

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