Kamloops schools get new dress code after controversy surrounding student's fashion choices | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops schools get new dress code after controversy surrounding student's fashion choices

Karis Wilson was "dress coded" for this outfit in February, 2021, putting pressure on School District 73 to consult various groups when revising the dress code policy.
Image Credit: Facebook/Chris Wilson
July 06, 2021 - 3:43 PM

The Kamloops-Thompson School District has revised their dress code for the 2021-2022 school year after consulting students and other stakeholders to shape the new policy.

Although the dress code was scheduled to be revised this year already, when a Norkam student was singled out for her outfit choice in February, the district found increased pressure upon them to reevaluate what changes will be made to the dress code.

“Having students directly involved in the revision of this dress code was an important part of this work,” assistant school district superintendent Bill Hamblett said in a news release. “It will also provide principals with the direction they need to ensure the school dress code is current and equitable across the district.”

Along with student consultation, groups like the Kamloops Thompson Teachers' Association, District Parent Advisory Council, Kamloops Sexual Assault Counselling Centre and the Aboriginal Education Council were included in the dress code revisions.

Karis Wilson was singled out in February, for her outfit choice, which included a tight-fitting dress under a white turtleneck shirt. 

While she received messages from across the country from other girls who have experienced similar issues, she was also criticized online for "asking for it," as she told iNFOnews.ca in February. 

Yet, her dispute with the school district was the fact that a teacher was able to single her out in the class, at his or her own discretion, and take issue with her choice of clothing. While she gathered national media attention, Wilson's friends also organized a walk out at Norkam Secondary following her dress code dispute.

A notable change within the dress code policy now includes a line that states a staff member should consult with school administration prior to address a dress code concern with a student.

“We recognize that a student’s choice of dress reflects their self-identity. This revised dress code provides students the freedom to dress in any way they choose, within a safe and inclusive framework," school board chair Rhonda Kershaw said in the release.

Dress code revisions had already begun in December, 2020 with consultations.

The stakeholders consulted by the school district then shared feedback with the school district on April 14.

Dress codes were discussed again on May 14, with a presentation from a South Kamloops Secondary student group, leading to more revisions.

Final revisions were made after stakeholder groups met on June 16, and the policy was reviewed for a last time by the school district's Employee Policy Advisory Committee on June 29.

All school principals will publish dress codes by Sept. 30 of each school year to all parents and students, and they will also review policy procedures with staff each year.

The district will continue to review the dress code policy every three years.

Go here to read the full School District 73 dress code policy.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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