This blog was created for the primary purpose of collecting information regarding sexual orientation & gender identity policies in Alberta schools. I aim to maintain a tone that is less personal and more informational in order to encourage Albertans to examine the information for themselves and draw their own conclusions.
However, I will make an exception for tonight.
I would like to share my own personal opinion – yet another view in the many that I present on this site.
The following is an email I have personally written and sent to Premier Notley, Minister of Education David Eggen and Mr Brian Jean, the Leader of the Official Opposition.
If you agree with the following statement, I invite you to copy and paste the text into an email with your own name and send it to the following three people, using the subject line: It is time for a new approach.
Minister of Education, David Eggen
Premier of Alberta, Rachel Notley
Leader of the Official Opposition, Brian Jean
If you are on Facebook, I have also created this information as an “event”, which you are welcome to join and share. (https://www.facebook.com/events/712147768887832/ )
My personal hope is that people will join this event page to indicate their commitment to send a message to our elected officials regarding this issue, whether using the words I have provided below or using their own words with their own concerns.
I truly hope that the more voices that are raised and unified, the more we can collectively influence change.
When it comes to requiring LGBTQ school board policies in Alberta, it is time for a new approach.
Children should be taught that we must show respect to all people. Period. I believe that as soon as we begin to qualify the “all”, we risk drawing lines, defining categories and creating labels and division. Children must learn that a right to respect comes alongside a responsibility to show it.
We are diverse in a multitude of ways and our diversity gives us an opportunity to grow and learn from each other. Belonging and acceptance are nurtured when we help students look for what connects us, instead of divides us. A goal of our education system should be to encourage the development of citizens who are able to sit down with anyone, no matter how seemingly different from them, and be able to find some commonality in their human experience that connects them.
Based on these beliefs, it is my suggestion that school boards not be required to create and differentiate specific policies along lines of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Instead, the provincial government should ensure all school boards have a policy in place that helps ensure their schools are welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments for ALL students. Period. Furthermore, instead of dealing with specific accommodations for the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity on a policy level (i.e. pronouns, washroom/change room use, participation in sports teams, etc.), these accommodations and supports should be offered on a case-by-case basis, in consultation among all concerned parties, including the student, guardians, school staff and medical professionals.
This approach is consistent with the procedures already existing in schools to provide individualized supports and accommodations to a tremendous variety of emotional, physical, cognitive, social or learning needs that support vulnerable, at-risk students in our schools every day.
For example, consider the number of students diagnosed with autism, depression, anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder, mild cognitive disabilities, attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, those with hearing impairments, mobility challenges, etc.
These ALL represent populations of students who are vulnerable and at-risk, yet school staff strive to effectively, compassionately and sensitively deal with providing supports every single day, without specific school board policies in place for each of these struggling groups.
School boards should ensure that bullying and discrimination on any grounds should be dealt with promptly, with clearly communicated and consistent consequences.
Respect for everyone should continue to be an expectation in all our schools, and in our society.
Sincerely, Theresa Ng