SD5 revises sexual orientation policy

It’s a living document, says director of instruction, as school district strives to celebrate diversity

  • Jun. 12, 2013 12:00 p.m.

School District 5 continues to improve its policy on sexual orientation and gender identity.

At last month’s board meeting, School District 5 (SD5) trustees approved revisions to the policy.

“The revisions were around terminology more than anything,” said Doug McPhee, SD5’s Director of Instruction, “terms that people are becoming more comfortable with, that better describe how they see themselves.”

It’s only the latest in a long process towards a more respectful approach to sexual orientation and gender identity, according to McPhee.

“I wouldn’t purport to say we know everything that we need to know about sexual orientation at this point in time, but as we are progressing along this, we’re most certainly in a learning process,” he said.

“The policy that was developed a few years ago is a living document.

“The meat of the whole thing is that we need to provide some in-service to schools so that everyone is aware of our rights and responsibilities under human rights legislation with respect to the rights of all individuals including those with differing sexual orientations or genders.”

This week, retired teacher Earl Waugh will hold a workshop with counsellors from SD5’s schools with guidelines that will then be passed on to the faculty at each of the schools.

McPhee said that it’s important that children are taught to celebrate diversity.

“Kids will reflect what they’ve learnt and what they see. They learn things from their parents, from TV, from each other. We need to make sure that the pictures they have are healthy ones and respectful ones. Sometimes the information they come with is better than the information we have, and sometimes we need to work on that,” he said.

While it is a process, McPhee said he can see progress.

“It isn’t solved by any stretch of the imagination but I’ve seen some real positive growth in the past 10 years.

“I wouldn’t be so bold to say that harassment or bullying doesn’t occur because of gender identity or sexual orientation; it most certainly does. We still need to work actively on that and make sure kids are appropriately informed and treating everyone with respect, and adults in the same way,” said McPhee.