School District 70 has started the process of adopting a district-wide policy regarding sexual orientation and gender identification, superintendent Cam Pinkerton said.
Administrative officials presented the policy to trustees at their meeting on Nov. 12.
Entitled 511: Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity, the policy seeks to ensure the board and community work together respectfully regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. It is also incumbent on the board to adopt strategies, policies that promote respect and support diversity.
Policy specifics include understanding of LGBTQ people. Defining appropriate behaviours to reduce homophophia, transphobia and gay harassment. Establish an effective complaint process. And making resources and support available district-wide for LGBTQ students and staff.
The policy has been three years in the making and started when a Valley school requested the district help set up a gay-straight alliance in middle and high school, Pinkerton said.
The genesis of the policy is rooted in something more profound though. “Some of the bullying we see in the district stems from homophobic comments,” he said. “We have gay and transgendered students in our schools and that kind of discrimination won’t be tolerated.”
District officials teamed with representatives from the Alberni District Teachers’ Union, CUPE, and the Principals-Vice Principals Association to craft the policy.
The group drew from similar policies from other school districts including Nanaimo, Victoria and Saanich in assembling Alberni’s policy.
The policy will now be taken to other stakeholder groups for review and will return to the board two more times, the last time for approval.
If approved the policy will be in place in the new year.