Michele Wiebe, President of the Peace River North Teachers Association, says a separate policy would let people know about the issues facing those in the LGBTQ community and will help in providing a safer school for staff and students.
She argues students that are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, questioning/queer have rights to be protected just the same as their peers.
“We have students that don’t want to go down certain hallways because maybe the girls are wearing cowboy shirts and boots and they’re a target, or boys that wear a pink shirt and they’re straight,” Wiebe says. “They become targets just based on what they wear, how they have their hair, their piercings, whatever it is. This will raise awareness for all students that everyone has a right to a safe learning environment, [and] for teachers to work in a safe working environment.”
While questions were being asked by various trustees, Secretary-Treasurer Doug Boyd chimed into the discussion saying School District 60 does have a policy against harassment, but not one specifically aimed for LGBTQ students.
“Our policy is contained in many different policies in relationship to harassment, but I think the presentation at the board meeting was to gather information to see whether or not one specific policy can be completed that will directly relate to this area,” he explains. “It may be that the policy committee would come back with a recommendation that they amalgamate and put it all together into one policy, but it doesn’t clearly or specifically identify this group, and I think that’s what’s being asked for.”
Boyd continues by saying the goal of a policy would be to protect all students, if the current policies in place are not doing that.
“It’s to protect all students if our policy isn’t going far enough. Maybe that’s something the policy committee could look at. I believe BCTF had some language recommended as well that Michele [Wiebe] could share with the steering committee.”
A potential LGBTQ policy will be discussed at the next policy committee meeting at a date to be determined.