School District #83 took the first step towards adopting a regulation regarding discrimination or harassment of students for their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The proposed regulation notes the board is “committed to establishing and maintaining a safe and positive learning environment for all students including those who identify as members of a sexual minority or are questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity or who are two-spirit persons.”
The regulation prohibits any form of discrimination, intimidation or harassment against any person based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
It also specifies that all school district employees have an obligation to intervene in any interaction involving the use of homophobic slurs and behaviour.
In discussions at the board, trustee Chris Coers asked if staff could be included in the policy, to provide them with additional recognition that both students and staff deserve an environment free from homophobic discrimination.
It was reported that staff protection from discrimination for sexual orientation is already present in other district employee regulations.
Heather McDonald, representing the North Okanagan Shuswap Teachers Association, concurred with Coers that the policy would be more inclusive if staff were added.
“This is a breath of fresh air,” said McDonald. “In a perfect world, staff would be included, but this gets a two thumbs up.”
The draft regulation will be reviewed before coming back to the board for adoption.