Trustee Heather Maahs argues her points at the Chilliwack school board table on March 12. Her comments and those of a fellow have come under fire for blaming girls for men’s actions. (Black Press Media files)

‘Disgusting and shameful’: School dress code debate by B.C. trustees irk union head

International Longshore and Warehouse Union president Rob Ashton calls out Chilliwack trustees

He may be an unlikely representative to be speaking out on school policies, but the union president for B.C. dock workers is calling out Chilliwack trustees over comments raised during a recent debate on dress codes.

International Longshore and Warehouse Union president Rob Ashton posted a letter to Chilliwack School District board chair Dan Coulter on Friday, expressing his “complete disgust” with statements made by two trustees while debating a motion to create a district-wide policy to replace individual school dress codes.

During the board meeting Tuesday, Trustee Darrel Furgason said it is a girl’s responsibility to dress modestly, calling teaching boys not to react an untested “experiment.” He added there are “many needy girls from families who may be victims of voyeurism.”

Furgason also said in his years teaching religious studies he would find it distracting to be sitting across from a girl who was “immodestly” dressed.

Trustee Heather Maahs said if girls are allowed to wear what they want at school, it would put them in danger on school grounds and increase predatory behavior from men in the community. She said girls who dress certain ways are “looking for the wrong kind of attention.”

READ MORE: Dress code debate includes heated exchange, head-turning claims

READ MORE: BCTF president speaks up on Chilliwack dress code comments

Ashton, who has two daughters, called on the board members to either retract their statements or resign.

He said that putting the blame of unwanted attention based on the way a person dresses has made room for people like Brock Turner, the Stanford University swimmer who was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.

“People like Brock are created with the language that is coming from some of the Chilliwack School Board members in the media,” Ashton wrote.

He went on to say that a woman should have the right to dress as she chooses and that men need to be taught to respect boundaries.

“The onus is on men to control themselves and if they can’t then they should be punished harshly for violating the boundaries and trust of another human being,” he said. “You as a school board should be instilling this in the next generation rather than the garbage that some of you have been projecting in the media.”

Ashton isn’t the first to speak out about the school trustees’ comments. In an interview this week with Black Press Media, B.C. Teachers Federation president Glen Hansman didn’t hold back his condemnation, calling the comments outdated and ones made by Furgason “creepy.”

Since facing backlash, Furgason has defended his comments in a post on his Worldview Studies Center Facebook page.

“I stand for decency, modesty and a dress code that reflects a professional environment,” he said.

– With files from Jessica Peters, The Chilliwack Progress


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Make your house a home at Nanaimo spring home expo

Building renovation and decor show taking place at Beban Park till Feb. 23

‘Frankenstein’ to be adapted as silent film made in real time at Port Theatre

Production merges stories of author Mary Shelley and character Victor Frankenstein

City of Nanaimo mulling sponsorship policy

Finance and audit committee recommends approving plan to create policy around facility naming rights

Nanaimo Art Gallery requesting $200,000 to upgrade its downtown space

Councillors supportive of NAG’s plans, but no decision made on increasing financial assistance

No credible threat found during high school lockdown, say Nanaimo RCMP

Police won’t say if lockdown at Dover Bay Secondary was related to one at the school last fall

VIDEO: Behind the scenes of turning newspapers into digital archives

Kelowna Capital News donated materials dating from 1980 to 2000

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

Council approves two retail cannabis stores for Ladysmith

Their applications are now in the hands of the provincial government

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

B.C. massage therapist suspended following allegations of sexual misconduct

While suspended, Leonard Krekic is not entitled to practice as an RMT in B.C.

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Most Read