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Dress code at Ontario high school to be revisited after principal's 'skanky' comment

05/15/2015 02:10 EDT | Updated 05/15/2016 05:59 EDT
A high school in Guelph, Ont., plans to create a focus group comprised of students, parents, staff and administrators to review its dress code after public backlash to the principal's use of the word "skanky" to describe the style of dress students should avoid.

Scot Bishop, the principal of Centennial Collegiate Vocational Institute, reportedly used the word during an address over the school's P.A. system last week.

The school said the group will be formed by the end of the school year. If changes are recommended, they likely won't be in place for the beginning of the next school year.

Meanwhile, students at the school protested on Friday by wearing T-shirts with messages of gender equality. Some are breaking the school's dress code by dressing up "skanky" themselves.

Student Brittany Harlick, the organizer of Friday's protest, said it was hard to believe the words coming out of the principal's mouth last Friday.

"At first, many of us thought we had heard him wrong because it was fairly shocking," she told CBC News in an earlier interview.

"He said to ... dress cool, not skanky."

One female student decided to protest in a different direction, dressing up in the traditional habit worn by nuns and holding a sign that reads, "Is this appropriate enough?" 

Principal has support

But some students are on the principal's side, with at least one wearing a T-shirt reading #TeamBishop. Some shouted "Team Bishop!" as they entered the school. 

The Upper Grand District School Board said it talked to Bishop about the comment and doesn't plan to take any further action.

The principal was out of town Friday and wasn't present for the protest. He apologized to female students on Monday as they entered the school's cafeteria.

He also issued an apology to Karen Campbell, a parent of three students at the school, for offending with his language. Bishop said his intent was not "to denigrate anyone," but "to send a strong message about the dress code to all students."

But Campbell felt his apology was inappropriate, saying he wrote that "it is interesting to note that numerous parents, students, and staff thanked me Friday for taking a stand and sending a strong message about appropriate clothing in the warm weather."

The controversy at the southwestern Ontario school comes just after a New Brunswick high school student said she was told that her halter dress was an "sexual distraction."

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