Thursday, 29 May 2014

Hats Off to Staff Meetings

     "The next item on our agenda is the committee report on the school hat policy. I'll turn it over to you, Joan."

     "Our committee has met 6 times and have developed a workable policy. Feel free to make comments or ask questions."

     "Yeh, I have a question.  Why do we need a hat policy anyway?"

     "We've included a rationale.  We feel that it is socially unacceptable to wear hats inside a building..."

     "Despite the fact that kids' dads wear hats everywhere?"

     "Well, it may be common practice, but it's not appropriate behaviour and as educators we should be raising the level of..."

     "And it's disrespectful.  Some of these kids just put their caps on to defy us.  It's insolence.  They need to show their respect for those in authority."

     "Plus, like, when everyone wears a hat?  It's like, really hard for the kids in the back to see?"

     "But isn't it also a part of their identity?  A badge that tells the world who they are- a symbol of adolescence, when young people are trying to assert themselves, to demonstrate their independence and solidarity with one another."

     "Getting back to the report- after the rationale the actual hat policy is very simple.  `Students are not permitted to wear headgear in the school."  The committee changed the word "hat" to "headgear"  because "hat" is too vague.  By "headgear" we mean any type of head covering, kerchiefs, ball caps, toques, etc."

     "So. like, what if a girl has a real cute hat that goes with her outfit?  That's socially acceptable, right?"

     "It may be socially acceptable but for the purposes of this policy, girls' hats are also not allowed.  The committee felt it would be discriminatory to permit girls to wear hats and not boys."

     "Excuse me, but isn't the term "headgear" also used to refer to the headdresses of some religious sects?  Couldn't we get into trouble with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?"

     "What if some guy had a head injury and he has a bandage on his head?  Or lost his hair from some medical procedure and wanted to wear a hat to cover up?"

     "Of course we would make exceptions."

     "Okay, so can they wear hats in the hall?"

     "No."

     "In the gym?"

     "No."

     "What about out on the playing field, or at the arena?"

     "Well, they gotta wear helmuts.  A guy could crack his skull on the ice, you know."

     "If the teacher deems headgear is necessary, I guess that would be up to him or her."

     "What about after the bell goes?"

     "No."

     "What about after school?"

     "No."

     "How about dances?"

     "No."

     "What about visiting students?"

     "No."

     "Well, how about on the weekends at a tournament or something?"

     "That is okay."

     "Well, I  don't think that's right.  If they can't wear hats in the school during the week, they shouldn't be allowed to wear them on the weekend."

     "The policy mentions students.  What about teachers or workmen?  How about the delivery men, the guy who stocks the pop machine?  He always wears a hat."

     "The committee assumed that teachers and anyone else employed by the school division would dress appropriately.  As for other adult guests in our school, we have no control over them."

     "Yeah, but if they're guests, we can tell them to take their hats off.  If it's a school rule, then everyone should have to follow it."

     "Oh right, like you're going to tell the pop machine guy to take his hat off."

     "I would. If it's unacceptable for kids, it's unacceptable for adults and I would have no problem asking him to take off his hat, politely, of course."

     "And parents?  You would do the same to them?  Not me.  I wouldn't tell a parent what to wear."

     "No kidding. Some parents are uncomfortable enough in here.  They should be able to wear whatever they want."

     "Maybe if we were able to educate the parents, we wouldn't have such a hard time with the kids."

     "Joan,  thanks for all the work you and your committee have done on this issue.  The staff has given you a little more food for thought, so perhaps you can meet again and give us your revised policy next meeting.  Next on the agenda, the committee report on the type of food offered in the concession..."  

Originally published in ATA News Moot Points column, March 14 1995