Over 100 boys showed up wearing skirts at Collège Nouvelles Frontières to protest discrimination, homophobia, and sexism on school grounds.
On 9 October, high schoolers from Gatineau, Quebec came together to dispute sexist dress code rules being imposed on female students in their school. The Collège Nouvelles Frontières boys were part of a wider trend of demonstrations that were taking hold of the province. Across Quebec, male students were turning up in skirts to highlight the ongoing sexism and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments behind the school rules.
16-year-old Zachary Paulin was inspired by protests he saw in Montreal and told a group of his friends about his plan to show up at wearing a skirt. He thought 30 people would join in, but over 100 fellow students showed up, wearing skirts, in support the next day.
Speaking to CBC, he told the outlet he was surprised at the outcome. “I knew that it was going to be a big movement, but not that big of a movement,” he said. “I was pleasantly surprised.”
Paulin also posted a statement on Instagram sharing his message of why he and his friends decided to protest.
“Today, you probably saw that some boys, including me, wore skirts,” Paulin posted with on Instagram with some snapshots of the day. “Well, let me talk a bit about why we did that. Basically, a boy wearing a skirt is a sign of resilience, solidarity, and support in the intersectional battle for equality between the sexes,” he wrote on social media.
“The double standard on the way society views our women and men is blatant; if a woman decides to wear a suit or pants, clothes associated with masculinity, it’s not a big deal.
“But the moment a man does anything remotely feminine – whether it is to put nail polish, makeup, or, in our case, a skirt – fingers are pointed and he gets insulted. People will say that he’s not a ‘real man’ and they will automatically assume his sexual orientation.
“So, by wearing a skirt, we are united and together against the sexualization of women and we’re sending a message against toxic masculinity which keeps boys from being who they truly are, without judgment.
“We’re in 2020, we should be open-minded and fight to end discrimination, homophobia, and sexism. That’s what our skirts represent.”
By drawing attention to the issues of toxic masculinity, sexualization of women and anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes, Paulin hopes the one-day protest has caused enough of a point to enable him to speak with the school’s principal about the topics.