A message to Surrey Teachers’ Association (STA) members

Dear colleagues,

Sometimes our beliefs, values, and responsibilities as professional educators are challenged by small groups who promote hatred. This is often the case when it comes to sexual health curriculum in schools and our efforts to ensure safe, inclusive schools for all students—including LGBTQ students. Recently, renewed provincial efforts on this issue have been the target of controversial claims and unfounded criticism from one small group in 
the Fraser Valley. You may have seen a particularly hateful brochure that has been distributed in local school communities, or related media stories.

We would like to assure you that the BCTF and the 
STA are aware of this. Far from being deterred by such hatred, all parties are working closely together on the implementation of educational programs and supports that are supportive and inclusive of LGBTQ members of our school communities, as required by law and policy.

In July 2016, the 
BC Human Rights Code was amended to include gender identity and expression as a prohibited ground of discrimination. Accordingly, in September 2016, the Ministry of Education issued a directive requiring all school boards to include sexual orientation and gender identity in district and school codes of conduct. These changes are long overdue, and apply across the public service – including, but not limited to, K-12 public education. The BCTF has been fully supportive of these efforts to support students, staff, and other members of our school communities. 

No student, staff member, or parent should have to experience transphobia, homophobia, racism, misogyny, or other forms of hatred in school, and we must continue to take proactive steps to ensure that this is so. Indeed, our responsibility as teachers is to also ensure that we are working to make our classrooms, teaching resources, and day-to-day experiences inclusive of all learners identified by the 
BC Human Rights Code. We do this proudly.

For two decades, BC teachers have led the way on initiatives to ensure that all students, staff, and families feel safe and respected in our schools. Other education partners and civil society groups now are with us on this path of advocacy. It is not always easy, but it’s necessary to make the changes our students need.


If you have any concerns or need help in answering questions about the SOGI 123 project, which is a current collaboration between the BCTF
, the Ministry of Education, and other partner organizations, please contact the STA or the BCTF.
As a teacher, you are also protected by the non-discrimination clause in your collective agreement and by the BC Human Rights Code, and are entitled to a safe and harassment-free workplace.
You are not alone.

In solidarity,

G
ioia Breda, Surrey Teachers’ Association, President
Glen Hansman, BC Teachers’ Federation, President

Here are some related resources you may find useful:

SOGI 123: www.sogieducation.org/home/

Letters of Support:

BCSSA would like to honour this work and provide a voice of support to those of you who are working through these sorts of challenges.  Thanks to you all for the excellent job you are doing supporting all members of our school communities each and every day. Please feel free to distribute the message below as you see fit.

Claire Guy (on behalf of the BCSSA Executive)
Executive Director

The BC School Superintendents Association (BCSSA) is pleased to support the work of the Ministry of Education and our education partners to create a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment for all students, staff, and families.  The Provincial Government has amended the BC Human Rights Code to include sexual orientation and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination. School Districts are required to have Policy and Code of Conduct language that is inclusive for all.

It is incumbent upon us, as provincial educational leaders, to advocate for our teachers, support staff, administrators and Boards of Education to implement the redesigned curriculum that provides education, awareness, and support to change practice.   Our collective goal is to ensure that all members of the school community feel visible, protected, and included.  We applaud the work of all of our partners who support SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) Education and initiatives, and recognize that our collective efforts will make a positive difference in the lives of many.  In our changing world, it is critical that all schools and communities reflect and celebrate the diversity found within them, and the BCSSA is proud to be leading such positive and inclusive learning communities.

Sincerely,

Tom Longridge
President
BC School Superintendents Association

 


Wednesday, October 25th, 2017. Filed in Category: Hot Issues

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