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Dress code a work in progress, as school board seeks more input

A revamped dress code in the Greater Victoria school district will be up for more debate before it can be approved.
Edith Loring-Kuhanga, chairwoman of the Greater Victoria school board, says trustees want more discussion and consultation on a revamped dress code.

A revamped dress code in the Greater Victoria school district will be up for more debate before it can be approved.

“Trustees felt that it needed to go back to committee and it needed to have more discussion and to include a broader base of consultation,” said school board chairwoman Edith Loring-Kuhanga.

It is primarily more input from parents that is being sought, she said.

Loring-Kuhanga said members of the public spoke both for and against the proposed guidelines at this week’s board meeting, with some feeling they were too broad and general.

The guidelines do not include specifics about what students can or cannot wear; instead, they say that “actions through verbal and non-verbal communication (including clothing)” must show support for the human-rights code.

They also say that schools have “a climate of understanding and mutual respect where all are equal in dignity and rights.”

The guidelines are intended to be included in codes of conduct already in place at schools.

Parent Tasha Diamant told board trustees that they should pass the code as written, saying that the linking of the guidelines with the B.C. Human Rights Code “makes perfect sense.”

Diamant said it is important that whatever comes out of the process includes “being sensitive to individuals’ concerns.”

“We want our children to come away having a positive experience and feeling welcome and included.”

She said dress codes tend to “single girls out” by putting more attention on what they wear than on boys’ clothing.

Audrey Smith, president of the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, said there hasn’t yet been an official parent representative involved in discussions about the dress code.

“Overall, the general sense that I’m getting from parents is that yes, a dress code of a sort is important.”

Loring-Kuhanga said the topic of the dress code arose last year during discussion about issues such as gender equity and gender neutrality.

“That’s where it all started because then people started talking about the dress code and whether kids have to conform to a certain dress code.”

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