Sadie Stonehouse, mother of three-year-old Lola, stated that her daughter was banned from wearing a sundress to school because staff claimed that the straps on the dress were inappropriate.
Stonehouse stated that she had to explain why her dress wasn’t allowed, an uncomfortable conversation that she fears will cause her daughter to question her body.
“She's not going to understand,” she said. “She's going to think that maybe she did something wrong, when she very much didn't. So now she's going to be questioning her own body. And that's such a young age to even be concerned about something like that."
The pink and orange sundress has frills, and reaches Lola’s ankles. According to the parents, the straps were not thick enough to match the preschool’s policy which stipulates that straps have to be two inches wide.
On Wednesday, Stonehouse picked out the dress in the hopes that it would help her daughter handle the 86⁰ F temperatures.
“I just grabbed a dress from the closet and thought, 'Oh, this is good,'” she said.
When Lola was picked up from school, the staff stated that they had a message for the parents: Lola’s dress was “inappropriate for school” because of the straps, and that next time she would have to wear a shirt underneath.
Lola’s father, Jamie Stonehouse, maintained that the suggestion didn’t make sense.
"At two inches she might as well just be wearing a shirt. It's covering pretty much her whole shoulder and down a bit. So it's not even a summer dress at that point,” he said.
Lola attends Little Years Nursery School, located inside Ralph Maybank School. According to the nursery school director, staff follow a dress code stipulated by the Pembina Trails School Division.
However, a school division spokesperson refuted this claim, stating that the division does not have a dress code.
“Instead, we believe in allowing our school leaders to use discretion and encourage best practices in a respectful way,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The spokesperson added that the child care centers are operated by “separate organizations” and only share the same roof with some schools.
Although they disagree with the dress code, the parents maintained that they will follow it.
"Especially for toddlers, I don't think any girl should have to worry about how much shoulder she's exposing when she dresses to go to school or anywhere else," Sadie Stonehouse said.