B.C.’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer students will now see themselves together with other groups reflected in anti-bullying policies in school districts and independent schools throughout the province.
Education Minister Mike Bernier announced today that explicit references to sexual orientation and gender identity are being added to the policies that school districts and independent schools are required to have in place.
The changes will bring district school policies in line with the July 2016 amendments to the B.C. Human Rights Code that included gender identity and expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination.
Bernier noted that many districts and independent schools already include sexual orientation and gender identity in their anti-bullying policies, and today’s announcement extends this to all of them.
All public school boards are required to have codes of conduct in their schools to address bullying by articulating the prohibited grounds of discrimination as set out in the British Columbia Human Rights Code, acceptable and unacceptable behaviours and consequences.
Independent schools are required to have policies promoting safety, respect and acceptance of all students; anti-bullying and harassment policies; and educational programs addressing these issues.
Districts and schools have until the end of this year to update their anti-bullying policies.
In addition, the ARC Foundation, based in B.C., is funding a new Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Education advisor position to support school districts and independent schools develop their policies and voluntary anti-bullying programs to be inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.
ARC Foundation’s current focus is the SOGI Education Initiative, which aims to facilitate collaboration, programming and funding to ensure every school in British Columbia provides a safe and inclusive environment for every child.
Mike Bernier, Minister of Education –
“All of B.C.’s schools need to be welcoming and safe places free of bullying. We owe it to our children to make sure they know that there are no reasons they should be bullied – and including sexual orientation and gender identity in anti-bullying policies makes that crystal clear.”
Doug Lauson, president, Federation of Independent School Associations BC –
“At independent schools, we care deeply about the children placed in our care. Last year, we asked that every independent school in British Columbia have a Discrimination Protection Policy – that's why the federation supports the efforts of government to protect all students against bullying and violence regardless of their gender, race, culture, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. Every student in every school in this Province deserves to be respected and the right to study and work in a safe school environment.”
Glen Hansman, president, BC Teachers’ Federation –
“All students, regardless of where they go to school, should be able to feel welcome and included in a safe space while being fully and completely themselves. B.C. teachers, students, and other community groups have long been advocating for this welcome and positive change. It means students in rural and urban school settings can be hopeful. Students, if they choose to, can come out or transition at any school in the province and know that the onus is on the school community to support them.”
Teresa Rezansoff, president, BC School Trustees Association –
"Providing a positive learning and social experience in our schools is of critical importance to trustees. Having all school districts align their policies with the July 2016 amendments to the human rights code is a significant step towards protecting the safety and wellbeing of ALL students.”
John Bird, president, BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils –
“This announcement is another key step to moving towards discrimination-free schools. Parents trust that boards of education will give life to policies that address the culture in some of our schools that enable bullying and discrimination to continue. There will come a time when we value the uniqueness of each student and no longer see differences as a reason to bully or discriminate. Let’s get there as quickly as we can.”
Brad Beattie, executive director, ARC Foundation Vancouver –
“ARC Foundation is pleased to be collaborating with champions in SOGI-inclusive education that are sharing their leadership voice on this important issue. We know that positive work is being undertaken in various districts within the province and are excited about this opportunity to consistently impact all students throughout B.C. and support the 64% of LGBTQ students who report that they feel unsafe at school.”
- Studies show that safer school policies that include specific measures on homophobia are effective in improving the school climate for LGBTQ and heterosexual students
- Approximately 5% of the student population identify as LGBTQ
- 64% of LGBTQ students reported that they feel unsafe at school in the 2011 Egale National Climate Survey on Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia in Canadian Schools: egale.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/EgaleFinalReport-web.pdf
To watch the entire announcement, visit: https://www.facebook.com/BCProvincialGovernment/videos/1489670077717946/
To learn more about ARC Foundation, visit: www.arcfoundation.ca