NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021

Kamloops-Thompson school district drafts new dress code policy after students sent home

The new policy is being created after a NorKam secondary student was sent home because of what she was wearing

  • Feb. 26, 2021 2:30 p.m.

-Kamloops This Week

A revised district-wide dress code policy is on the way for School District 73.

The new policy is being created after Grade 12 NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson was pulled out of class and sent home because of what she was wearing — a lace-trimmed, knee-length dress worn over top a long-sleeve turtleneck shirt.

The incident led to a walkout by some NorKam students on Wednesday (Feb. 24) and has drawn thousands of comments on social media and news stories from across the province.

SD73 Supt. Terry Sullivan said he couldn’t comment on that incident specifically, citing privacy concerns, but did confirm that an updated policy will be revealed in the coming weeks, likely by the end of March.

“Dress codes have to evolve as the norms and values of society evolve,” he told KTW.

Sullivan said he has researched dress code policies in the past, during his previous tenure as district superintendent, and cited an incident in the 1950s as evidence of how norms have continued to change.

“I found that there were a number of students in 1956 who were suspended in a Vancouver high school for wearing saddle shoes,” he said. Saddle shoes are simple black and white Oxford-style shoes, apparently once considered inappropriate as school attire.

“The point is, dress codes have to evolve,” he said.

Sullivan said the district’s dress code policy has been under review for months, following an incident in the fall at South Kamloops secondary.

After a new district-wide policy is put in place, Sullivan said schools will be able to develop their own dress codes in conformity with the district’s policy.

“Hopefully, I think it will be more in tune with respect to where everybody is at at this point,” Sullivan said, noting a draft of the policy is already circulating among staff.

But some have called for a more collaborative approach, including Kamloops Sexual Assault Counselling Centre co-ordinator Alix Dolson, who offered the agency’s guidance to SD73 in developing a new policy.

“I think it’s pretty clear these policies target female-identifying students disproportionately,” Dolson told KTW.

At issue, in particular, is item 1.8 of SD73’s administrative procedure 350.2, which states that school dress codes must consider “the wearing of clothing or clothing worn in a way that detracts from the teaching/learning process.”

Dolson said any policy that must be interpreted by administrators or teachers as to whether or not an outfit is distracting is problematic.

“If people have more conservative views and that’s the approach they want to take in dressing their own bodies, they can do that. But that’s about as far as that can extend,” Dolson said. “Conservative values around modesty are rooted in sexual morals. You can’t parse the two apart.”

Dolson said dress codes such as SD73’s reinforce rape culture and paint students as inherently sexual and as something shameful.

“It just reinforces those ideas that young women’s bodies are inherently sexual and it’s up to them to protect other people from having a sexual response to themselves,” Dolson said.

Dolson said she favours a student-led approach to the matter, such as what is underway at South Kamloops secondary, where students are involved in a committee to develop a dress code there.

READ MORE: Shuswap auto recycler breaks out of Rust Valley for Backroad Truckers

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Kamloops

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

The Regional District of North Okanagan has purchased a watercraft to be used by the BC Conservation Officer Service, who will conduct enhanced boat patrols on the Shuswap River during the 2021 floating season. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Boat purchased to provide enhanced Shuswap River oversight this floating season

The regional district purchased an extra watercraft to be used by Conservation Officers this year

The West Kelowna Warriors beat the Vernon Vipers 3-2 in BCHL action Friday, April 16, 2021. (Lisa Mazurek Photography)
West Kelowna goaltender stymies Vernon Vipers for 3-2 win

The Warriors were outshot 44-23 Friday night, but it didn’t bother Johnny Derrick

A group of youth in Kelowna's Knox Mountain Park are suspected as having violated the B.C. Wildlife Act by harassing a pair of nesting bald eagles with a drone Friday, April 16, 2021. (Conservation Officer Service photo)
Nesting bald eagles harassed by youth-piloted drone in Kelowna

Conservation Officers are hoping to hear from anyone who witnessed the Knox Mountain incident

Nick Clements captured a photo of the Northern Lights over Oyama Friday night, April 16, 2021. (Nick Clements photo)
PHOTOS: Northern Lights colour Okanagan night

Residents saw the dazzling green aurora borealis throughout the valley Friday night

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Armaan Dhaliwal hands a cheque for $500 to Shuswap Hospital Foundation president Angie Spencer as his proud grandparents Gordie and Nancy Dhaliwal watch on Friday, April 16. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm boy’s samosa sales benefit hospital foundation

Armaan Dhaliwal was able to give the Shuswap Hospital Foundation a $500 donation

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Firefighters battled a burning home on farmland in the north end of Vernon Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
UPDATE: Homeowner taken to hospital after Vernon home destroyed by fire

Firefighters engaged in a lengthy battle against the engulfed structure Saturday afternoon

Vernon Jubilee Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared over in surgical unit of Vernon hospital

The outbreak affected four staff, 10 patients and led to three deaths in just over two weeks

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Most Read