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)

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

Rose Sawka, 91, reaches out to her son Terry Sawka, on a daily visit through the window, from inside Acropolis Manor where a COVID-19 outbreak took hold on Jan 19. Rose was vaccinated for the virus on Jan. 20 and as of Feb. 25 has remained virus free. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
No increases of COVID-19 at Acropolis -16 residents now recovered

Vaccinations have helped to stabilize Prince Rupert long-term care facility virus numbers

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

BC Bus North was implemented under the NDP provincial government in 2018 when Greyhound cancelled services across northern BC. The transportation funding expires at the end of March 2021. (Photo: B.C. Transit)
BC Liberals call for immediate govt. renewal of BC Bus North funding

BC Liberals spent years ignoring need for better transportation in the North - Jennifer Rice, MLA

Prince Rupert Tourism is benefitting from funding for new welcome and wayfinding signage from the COVID-19 Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program. McClymont Park on the gateway into Prince Rupert is one of the first things tourists see entering the city by road. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
$695,000 Community Economic Recovery funds to benefit local organizations

Prince Rupert Tourism and Gitga’at Development Corporation to receive COVID-19 recovery funds

Wainwright Marine Services Ltd.’s “Ingenika” tugboat went missing in the Garner Canal area south and east of Kitimat on Feb. 11, resulting in two deaths and the rescue of a third man. (Wainwright Marine Photo)
Tug union demands Transport Canada protect workers along B.C. coast and rivers

ILWU makes safety demands following the deaths of two men and the rescue of a third

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Most Read