'This is absurd': B.C. dad speaks out after school sends daughter home over perceived dress code violation
Published Wednesday, February 24, 2021 12:01PM PST Last Updated Sunday, February 28, 2021 2:56PM PST
VANCOUVER -- A Kamloops, B.C., dad is speaking out after his daughter was allegedly sent home from her high school this week for wearing a knee-length dress layered with a long-sleeve turtleneck.
“I’m disappointed in the system,” Christopher Wilson said in a video posted on Facebook.
He says his daughter Karis, who is in Grade 12 at NorKam Secondary, was singled out by her teacher for what she was wearing when she showed up for class on Tuesday.
“(She) was told the outfit she was wearing made, or could make her, or the teacher’s assistant, who is a male, feel uncomfortable. So she was removed from class, brought down to the principal’s office and sent home,” Wilson explained.
Wilson says his daughter walked home from school in tears— and he has been left with many questions about what happened, and why her choice of clothing would be a problem in the first place.
“She’s wearing a turtleneck, under a black dress that goes to her knees,” Wilson said. “This is absurd."
He says he spoke with the school principal and asked to see the school dress code and was alarmed to see one of the rules is to “not to wear clothing that is distracting to teaching or learning."
“Change needs to happen,” Wilson said. “You can’t talk to students like this. These are little humans that you’re supposed to get excited about learning and the rest of their life, not demoralize them, beat them down and send them home.”
Wilson says he went public with the story after speaking with his daughter.
“She said, ‘You know what, it’s OK because if we make any change for someone that comes behind me, then it’s worth it.’”
Wilson also wants to see increased sensitivity training for teachers.
The Kamloops School District told CTV News it could not comment on the allegations but that a review is underway.
"We understand the parent is concerned about what happened to his daughter at school yesterday. We are also concerned about these allegations and are treating them seriously," superintendent Terry Sullivan said in an email.
"Whenever a parent is concerned about their child at school we want to work with them for the best outcome for the student."
The district did not provide CTV News a copy of the current dress code, despite two requests to see it.
A rally in support of Wilson was held at the teen’s school on Wednesday, with a group of students chanting "I stand with Karis."
Alix Dolson with the Kamloops Sexual Assault Counselling Centre says many people in the community are having a hard time understanding the school’s decision.
“If a person is wearing a turtleneck, I’m not sure what else the school district is expecting of students," Dolson told CTV News. "If that doesn’t cut it when it comes to the dress code, what does?”
She said the current policy appears to rely too much on individual judgment of school staff. Her organization has offered to provide input to the district on dress code policies in the future.
“I’d suggest that the school district needs to look at this and find some solutions on how they can have some kind of dress code that creates an environment of safety, and inclusivity, and respect for everyone without policing students’ bodies,” Dolson said.