EDMONTON — The Edmonton Public School Board is calling on the Alberta School Boards Association to support a policy for staff, students and families who identify as sexual or gender minorities.
On Monday, the EPSB is set to propose an “emergent resolution” to the ASBA during day two of its fall general meeting. The EPSB is asking the ASBA to take a stance through policy to protect all LGBTQ students and staff in Alberta.
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“I think Monday will be a very telling day. The Alberta School Boards Association has been very silent on LGBTQ issues,” said Dr. Kristopher Wells, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta.
“If they don’t support this emergent resolution and members don’t support the advice to develop a policy and guidelines, this will be in direct contrast to directives from the minister of education.”
Earlier this month, Education Minister David Eggen sent a letter to all Alberta school boards telling them they have until March 31 to develop inclusive LGBTQ policies in accordance with the School Act, or ensure their current policies align with it. All schools are also required to let students create gay-straight alliances.
“Will they go with the will of the government or will they continue to be silent on LGBTQ issues in our schools?” Wells asked of the ASBA.
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In 2012, the ASBA rejected a similar proposal from the EPBS on sexual orientation and gender identity. More than 60 per cent of school boards voted against the proposal.
“This is a very important issue. It’s an issue we’re talking about all over North America, particularly when it comes to supporting transgender students. It’s an issue that many schools want support, they want resources and they want to be able to do the right thing,” Wells said.
Recent debate by the Edmonton Catholic School Board about passing such a policy in its school ended up in a shouting match between board members, which caused Eggen to step in.
This past spring after much debate, the government passed Bill 10, which allows any student in Alberta the opportunity to form a gay-straight alliance on school property.
In 2011, the EPSB became the first school board in Alberta to pass a sexual orientation and gender identity policy.