For immediate release | June 10, 2014
Students, their parents, health care providers and legal experts are all speaking out in favour of the Vancouver School Board’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy. The VSB will follow the footsteps of school districts in Toronto and Edmonton, if it votes to approve the policy on June 16.
“From the age of five, I knew I wasn’t a girl,” recalls Cormac O’Dwyer, a recent graduate from Lord Byng Secondary. “It wasn’t until the eighth grade, that I was able to find the vocabulary to begin my transition. That’s when I truly began living my life.” While Cormac found exceptional support from his family, without the guidance laid out by the new policy update neither the school nor his family had any direction on how to safely and inclusively inform his peers and teachers. Says Cormac, “It really was the blind leading the blind.”
“Trans and gender non-conforming children have a legal right to be safe at schools,” said Morgane Oger, who is transgender and a parent of two school-aged children. Oger is one of the spokespeople for the BC Safer Schools Coalition (bcsaferschools.com), which has formed to support the proposed changes to the School Board’s current LBGT policy.
The policy being considered (see link below) was developed over three years by a subcommittee of the Vancouver School Board that had representatives from all education stakeholders including parents, students, teachers, unions, and administration. It recommends, for example, that trans and gender non-conforming students be accommodated in their use of preferred pronouns, reducing sex-segregated activities, creating gender-neutral washrooms and change rooms wherever possible, and where there are gendered facilities, permitting students to use the facility which conforms most closely with their gender identity. Students are entitled to confidentiality with respect to their gender identity; and will not be referred for ‘reparative therapy’.
Three long and contentious consultation meetings have been held; and a final committee meeting is scheduled for June 11 (5:00 pm, VSB offices).
VSB Proposed Policy: