A rainbow crosswalk was painted by Fernie Secondary School last year. Ezra Black photo/Fernie Free Press

A rainbow crosswalk was painted by Fernie Secondary School last year. Ezra Black photo/Fernie Free Press

SD5 set to unveil rainbow crosswalk

School District 5 is set to unveil Cranbrook’s first rainbow crosswalk next week at the district office, which will demonstrate support for diversity and commitment to inclusive communities that embrace all citizens.

The ceremony will feature local dignitaries and elected officials at the district office on Monday, May 28, beginning at 11:30 a.m.

The rainbow crosswalk in Cranbrook is the second crosswalk within SD5 jurisdiction, as Fernie unveiled a rainbow crosswalk last June. That initiative was brought forward by students from Fernie Secondary School, which presented to Fernie City Council, the group received permission to paint a crosswalk on city property adjacent to the school.

“These crosswalks are a natural extension of the work SD5 has been doing for over a decade to further our goal of providing all students (and staff) with the safety, respect and acceptance to which they’re entitled”, said SD5 board chair Frank Lento. “Like the fabled rainbow in the story of Noah, this crosswalk symbolizes our promise to our students.”

School District 5 was one of the first Districts in BC to create a sexual orientation policy prohibiting any form of discrimination, intimidation or harassment against any person based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Originally approved by the Board of the day in May 2006, the policy has been revised over the years to better reflect the Board’s increased understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).

In July 2016 the BC Human Rights Code was amended to include gender identity and expression as a prohibited ground of discrimination. In the following months, the Minister of Education announced that all boards of education and independent school authorities in BC were required to reference sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in district and school codes of conduct by year’s end.

While many Districts in BC were working on creating or revising their own SOGI policies following this announcement, the SD5 Board was once again leading the way forward, having had revised their policy to reflect SOGI three and a half years earlier, in May 2013.

A copy of the SD5 Policy 3.35 – Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity is available on the SD5 website.

More information on the BC Ministry of Education’s mandate for SOGI policies is also available here.