Jim Lovell was speaking on behalf of the PRNTA last night at the meeting. He says that the harassment that gay, lesbian, or transgendered students endure goes beyond bullying and believes that if this were a racial issue a stand alone policy would be adopted.
“From my perspective at the school one size does not fit all. I just think if we at the school were hearing the ‘n-word’ directed at our Nigerian students 10-20 times a day we’d be looking at that in a really serious fashion and probably adopt a policy to prevent that. If we had really negative comments going towards our Aboriginal students 10-20 times a day we would do that. I just believe that this small group is the most marginalized and it’s not just bullying, it’s hate.”
Lovell adds that other districts have a separate policy when it comes to the harassment of LGBTQ students. He says adding one for School District 60 would show the students that their concerns have been properly addressed.
“20 other school districts have recognized that and have adopted separate stand alone policies for their gay kids. I think it would be a sign of recognition. I think it would be a symbolic motion by the board if we had a small stand alone policy to help those kids.” Lovell states.
Lovell, a teacher at North Peace Secondary School says that he’s had students who have been significantly affected by comments made towards them. He states that while there are efforts to support gay students they do not go far enough.
“I think for the kids it shatters them. I’ve had kids that have been suicidal. I’ve had kids that have left the system because they can no longer be in the system because of the hate,” he explains. “Some students when they graduate will not stay in this community. This isn’t a bad community; homophobia is in every community but they just didn’t feel any support here. I think all students deserve that educational support and safety within the school system. I don’t think we provide it. We try but I don’t think we provide it on a consistent basis in our school district and I think a stand alone policy is a very small step towards that.
Approximately 20 districts already have separate polices that forbid the harassment of LGBTQ students.
The policy will be discussed further at the next Committee of the Whole meeting on May 5.