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Board to discuss sexual identity policy

Gold Trail Board of Education will discuss a new policy at its next public meeting: Policy 8.70 Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity was created to include all students an employees in all aspects of school life regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to provide a response to  complaints ot homophobia and other behaviours that include discrimination, harassment and exclusion.

The Education Committee looked at the policy at their Feb. 7 public meeting.

Trustee Valerie Adrian wondered why the Board needed a separate policy  when it already dealt with harassment in its Code of Conduct.

“I would respect anyone in our schools regardless of who they are or what they are,” she said. “I just expect everyone to. Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t think this is an issue here.”

“I think it needs its own policy,” said trustee Mavourneen Varcoe-Ryan. “I think it’s a very large issue.”

Chair of the school board Carmen Ranta said the policy had already been reviewed by the policy committee and there was very little discussion about it before they approved it to go forward.

“I support ending all harassment and bullying,” she said. “I hope some day we won’t need it, and that  we can look back on it and say remember those days?”

Speaking for all principals, Shirlee Johson said they would appreciate having this policy in place to guide them.

Superintendent Teresa Downs said some of the local service groups have indicated that they knew of students who sought help in Kamloops because they were afraid to do so in their own community.

The high school students recently produced short videos of their “clay-mation” project. One of the projects supported gay pride and received a negative backlash from some community members.

“The Board wanted a clear statement that they won’t allow anyone in their schools to be treated differently,” said Downs after the meeting.

The policy will be presented at the next open Board meeting on Feb. 21 in Lytton for discussion by trustees. It will then be sent to partner groups and posted on the District’s website for public comment.

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