Morality and decency have been the subject of discussions around the Chilliwack school board table fairly regularly since the election, but now parents have their official invitation to weigh in.
At least, they have the chance to give their thoughts on school dress codes, via an online forum called ThoughtExchange. The forum went live on April 11 and the portal will remain open until April 30.
A new dress code policy that would apply to all Chilliwack public schools (with the exception of those with uniforms) was proposed by Trustee Willow Reichelt in March. It suggested creating a policy that had a gender neutral focus and put the onus back on families to decide what’s best for the student to wear.
She cited hearing about girls being “dress coded” as young as elementary school for wearing items like sundresses with spaghetti straps, or outfits with bra straps visible. The board voted in favour of sending the policy to the Education Policy Advisory Committee for input and revision. The policy as written is based on one adopted in Victoria, after two years of public consultation.
Reichelt linked the ThoughtExchange forum to her Facebook page on Thursday morning, and a notice was sent out to families in the district.
Here is the proposed policy:
534 Policy: Dress Codes
The Board is committed to providing students with learning environments that are safe and inclusive. Students must show respect for everyone, and this does not change based on how someone is dressed. The Board believes that judgments on the appropriateness of student attire are best made by students and their families, because clothing choices reflect individual identity, cultural norms, and socio-economic factors and are intensely personal. Students may attend school and school-related functions in clothing of their choice, provided that it meets the following conditions:
1. Conforms with the health and safety requirements for the intended activity.
2. Does not promote drugs or alcohol.
3. Does not display profanity,
4. Does not display discriminatory language or images.
This policy does not apply to schools that have adopted school uniforms.
Here is the link to share your thoughts on the proposed dress code policy: https://my.thoughtexchange.com/#702412057
This ThoughtExchange will be open until April 30.
ThoughtExchange allows people to sign in anonymously and leave comments, and read and rate other people’s comments. The information will be gathered and presented at some point to the board.
This is not the first time the Chilliwack School District has used ThoughtExchange. They have a discussion going on the proposed fine arts school, as well as one of how the district can improve relations with the District Parent Advisory Council and the individual councils at each school.