B.C. school district revises dress code months after teen sent home for turtleneck-dress combo

Kamloops, B.C. resident Christopher Wilson says his daughter, Karis, was sent home from high school for wearing a black knee-length dress over a turtleneck. (Christopher Wilson/Facebook)

A B.C. school district where a teenage girl was sent home earlier this year for wearing a black dress over a white turtleneck has adopted a new dress code.

The Kamloops-Thompson School District's dress code was already under review when Grade 12 student Karis Wilson was ordered to leave NorKam Secondary School back in February. That review has since been completed, and the district is implementing its new dress code for the 2021-22 school year.

"I am grateful for the efforts of all the stakeholders involved," board chair Rhonda Kershaw said in a statement this week. "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."

The decision to send the teenager home caused an uproar after her father Christopher Wilson spoke out in a Facebook video, calling the situation "absurd."

The district declined to provide a copy of the dress code for CTV News at the time, but the father said it included a rule that students can't wear clothing that is "distracting to teaching or learning."

"(She) was told the outfit she was wearing made, or could make … the teacher's assistant, who is a male, feel uncomfortable," he said.

The review of the Kamloops-Thompson School District dress code began in December 2020, and included feed back from students, parents, teachers, the Aboriginal Education Council, the Kamloops Sexual Assault Counselling Centre and other groups.

The district said the updated code bans clothing that "undermines the principles of safety and inclusivity, including the promoting of hatred, tobacco, illegal drugs or alcohol, illegal activity, obscenity, profanity, pornography or obscene images."