After two years of hotly contested debate spread across 16 meetings and eight community presentations, the Greater Victoria School District board of education has ratified a new student dress code policy.
On Monday, SD61 trustees approved a policy “committed to providing students with learning environments that are safe, responsive, and inclusive,” that will form part of the district’s code of conduct.
Trustee Jordan Watters, who first championed the change in policy in 2016, called it a “new era of equity in our district” in a Facebook post.
Officially, the new policy “supports the dress code consistently and in a manner that does not reinforce or increase marginalization or oppression of any group based on race, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, cultural observance, household income or body type and size.”
Of the 47 schools in SD61, only 22 – primarily middle schools – have dress codes.
Previously, Watters said students – primarily female – have been removed from the classroom, asked to put on additional clothing, or singled out based on opinions from educators on what they deem appropriate attire to be.
The new policy aims to avoid such judgment calls and requires teachers, principals and parents to advise and consult with each other on an annual basis.
“With our new policy in place we take the first step towards a future where no body is a distraction and all children are welcome to express themselves without fear of shame,” Watters wrote.