EDUCATION: Board considers sexual orientation policy
In light of national news coverage on children with different sexual orientations being bullied, committing suicide or self-mutilating, the School District 51 board of education (SD51) has decided to create their own policy protecting students and staff in local schools. “I think (a sexual orientation policy) has to do with acceptance and supporting people who feel isolated. Statistically, they are more prone to self harm and suicide,” said trustee Vicki Gee of her reason for bringing up the policy proposal at the last board meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 13. “I hope this board looks at (sexual orientation) in a real proactive way,” said Norm Sabourin, Boundary District Teachers Association representative during the board meeting. Sexual orientation includes people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and transexual. Right now the district has listed sexual orientation under a policy pertaining to bullying in their district code of conduct. To date they have not had any issues surrounding sexual orientation within the district. But 14 districts within B.C. do have a policy, while the remaining 54 do not. Gee proposed that sexual orientation should have its own policy within SD51. “By combining the policies we would be missing some of the point,” said Gee. “I think (sexual orientation) is different from other forms of discrimination and bullying… This isn’t just about how we treat people with different sexual orientation, it’s about sexuality being used as a weapon.” Gee said if one per cent of all humans are sexually ambigious then a school district of 1,400 students like this one could potentially have 14 people dealing with the issue of sexual orientation right now. There are also staff members and student’s families to consider too. “If we don’t learn about this then people could be suffering in silence,” she said, adding an educational component to the policy might be good. The issue will now return to the policy committee where a seperate policy on sexual orientation will be developed. Next, the drafted policy will return to the board for further discussion.