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Three-year-old girl's sundress deemed inappropriate for preschool

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CTV News Staff
Publication Date: 
23 May 2018


A three-year-old girl won’t be allowed to wear a sundress she loves to preschool anymore after staff deemed the straps on the outfit inappropriate, a Winnipeg family says.

Sadie Stonehouse said the preschool has put her in the uncomfortable position of having to explain to her daughter, Lola, why the sundress isn’t allowed – a conversation she fears will make her three-year-old question her body.

“She's not going to understand,” Stonehouse 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 sundress is pink and orange with frills that go down to Lola’s ankles. The issue, Lola’s parents say, is that the shoulder straps weren’t thick enough for the preschool’s policy, which dictates that straps must be two inches wide.

The issue arose Wednesday, when temperatures in Winnipeg hit a high of 30C and Lola’s mom picked out the light dress from her daughter’s closet.

“I just grabbed a dress from the closet and thought, 'Oh, this is good,'” Stonehouse said.

When Lola’s daycare provider picked her up from preschool, her parents say staff had a message for them: the dress was “inappropriate for school” due to the thickness of the straps, and that next time she’d have to wear a shirt underneath.

Lola’s father, Jamie Stonehouse, said the suggestion doesn’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,” Stonehouse said.

The preschool, Little Years Nursery School, is located inside Ralph Maybank School. The nursery school director told CTV News that staff follow a dress code laid out by the Pembina Trails School Division.

However, a school division spokesperson distanced the organization from the preschool, saying 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 child care centres are run by “separate organizations” and simply share a roof with some schools.

Even though they disagree with the dress code, the parents said they plan to 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.