It seemed like the least he could do.
Trafalgar Middle School student Emerald Lockhart was on hand during a student dress code protest on Tuesday morning, so he decided to roll up his shirt and expose his stomach for everyone to see.
“I just remembered this morning that it’s Croptop Tuesday, so I pulled my shirt through to help support these girls who are trying to do something,” Lockhart told the Star.
“The dress code should be the same for girls and boys. If a girl can’t wear certain things, a guy shouldn’t be allowed either. I was wearing a tank top that was pretty revealing one time, and if a girl wore it I bet she’d be dress coded.”
His message to school administrators: “Treat everybody equal.”
The students are using the hashtag #CropTopTuesday to help spread their message via social media following a post from student Sophie Harris that has riled the community and inspired plentiful feedback online. The kids purposely wore clothes that flouted that dress code to make a point.
The dress code, as it reads on Trafalgar’s website, requires students “to dress in a manner appropriate to establish a positive learning atmosphere at the school. This means that clothes that may be appropriate in other settings may not be appropriate for school.”
They require undergarments to not be visible, shirts that reach the top of students’ pants and have appropriate necklines, and clothing that does not promote any kind of violence, profanity, hatred, discrimination or negative stereotypes.
“Beachwear or sleepwear is not appropriate in school (unless it’s Pyjama Day!)” it reads.
On Tuesday, Harris was feeling pretty proud of herself.
“It’s amazing, walking through the hallways there’s kids from every grade, boys and girls, all wearing crop tops. Some of them are just tucking their shirts up. Everyone’s joining in, and that’s amazing,” she said.
“I think this has always been an issue in our school but nobody really saw it as big as they should’ve until I addressed it, now everyone’s joining together to fix something we believe in.”
She said she’s received over 100 messages of support, and “that’s such a cool feeling.”
“It’s 2017, we shouldn’t be facing these problems in middle school. My exact issue is I was dress coded unfairly, and girls always get dress coded but boys never do. The whole system doesn’t work.”
Harris has been talked to about her attire three times, and all three times she was approached by a male teacher — something she takes issue with.
“The third time I got mad. I changed because it didn’t seem like the time and place to bring up issues, but then I got home and started rallying my troops to do something about it.”
Principal Carol-Ann Leidloff was nearby during the protest, and quick to state that she’s open to hearing the students’ concerns. She plans to meet individually with one boy and one girl representing the Grade 8 class.
“I think this is a good way to make sure their voices are heard. The girls and boys have been really respectful, and we’ll be meeting with them to discuss this later in the week.”
Leidloff said the situation is sensitive, and the administration is limited in what they can say. However, she plans to engage fully with the concerns raised by students.
“It’s been a few years since we looked at the dress code, so this is an opportunity to do that and perhaps we can address their concerns through that conversation.”
And this happens every year.
“Every year the weather gets warm and students want to wear things that make them feel cool, but we have to remind them it’s a place of work and learning. There’s places where it’s appropriate to wear bathing suits and short shirts, and there are places where it isn’t.”
She applauded the students for being respectful.
“I think the community needs to know we have their kids’ best interests at heart, and we’re trying to create a place that’s safe and respectful for everybody.”