A principal at a Sydney girls’ school is set to apologise after saying some frankly gross comments about what students should and should not wear in front of male teachers. Gross, gross, gross.
Cheltenham Girls High School Principal Suellen Lawrence had been addressing students over video about the dress code at a recent swimming carnival, when she expressed her thoughts.
“Some of the shorts were very short,” Lawrence said in the video obtained by 7News on Sunday.
“And some of the tops were very stringy tops. Wear some clothing that covers you properly.
“Please remember girls there are men teachers in this school and they don’t want to be looking at that either.
“Don’t compromise their employment because you can’t do the right thing.”
Some students were heard gasping in response.
Sure, dress codes and such are sacred at some high schools, but Lawrence’s response didn’t have to be so misogynistic. She absolutely didn’t have to imply that wearing “stringy tops” would attract the attention of their adult, male teachers. She didn’t have to imply that teenagers are responsible for the behaviour of grown men.
Students and their parents were obviously upset over the principal’s address. One anonymous parent told 7News: “What are the girls going to be thinking now whenever a teacher looks at them?”
“This is an all-girls school and then we’ve got victim-blaming inside the school.”
Several students confronted Lawrence about her comments, however she only dug her heels in deeper. Instead of genuinely listening to her students, Lawrence told them that her words had been taken out of context and turned into “some sort of big issue”.
“I’m sorry for you, you need to go back and listen to what was said,” she said at the next assembly, as seen in the video obtained by 7News.
Speaking to the ABC, Cathy Brennan, the executive director of school performance for the NSW Department of Education, said Lawrence’s comments were “inappropriate”.
“We’ve taken that seriously,” Brennan told the ABC. “She’s absolutely ready to apologise [and] recognise those were not the comments that were aligned with our view of how we give confidence to our students.”
She said Lawrence, who has since spoken to her manager, has shown “genuine remorse” over her actions.
“She has really understood and is quite distressed by the fact that this caused such concern for her students at her school,” Brennan said.
Brennan added that she’s very proud students decided to speak up about their principal’s comments.