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.

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⬇️English version in comments⬇️ Voici le texte original que j’ai lu à l’interphone aujourd’hui: « Bonjour à tous et à toutes, Aujourd’hui, certains d’entre vous ont probablement remarqué que des garçons, comme moi, portaient la jupe. Eh bien, laissez moi vous parler du pourquoi de ce geste. En gros, le fait qu’un garçon porte la jupe est un signe de résilience, de solidarité et de support à la bataille intersectionelle d’égalité des sexes. Le double standart sur la façon dont laquelle une femme et un homme devraient se présenter aux yeux de la société est flagrant; si une femme porte un complet et des pantalons, vêtements associés à la masculinité, on n’y pense pas plus que ça. Mais à cause de la masculinité toxique, le moment qu’un garçon va faire quoique ce soit de féminin, que se soit se mettre du vernis à ongle, du maquillage, ou dans notre cas, une jupe, il se fait pointer du doigt et bombarder d’insultes. On va dire qu’il n’est pas un vrai homme et on va immédiatement assumer son orientation sexuelle. Aussi, la jupe représente parfois un moyen pour certains établissements scolaires d’abuser du code vestimentaire inconsciemment. Les agresseurs, tant qu’à eux, vont excuser leur geste en sexualisant les femmes inutilement et grossièrement. Donc, en portant la jupe, nous sommes solidaires aux femmes de la société qui se font constamment sexualiser et à qui ont dit de cacher le corps, et nous lançons un message contre la masculinité toxique qui empêche les garçons d’être ce qu’ils sont vraiment sans jugement. On est en 2020, et nous à NF, on est ouvert sur le monde; c’est-à-dire qu’on n’accepte pas ça la discrimination, l’homophobie et le sexisme. C’est ce que représente notre jupe. Merci. » #jupepourtous

A post shared by Zachary Paulin (@_zachpaulin_) on

 

“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.