A high school principal has issued a “call to action” to her colleagues on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning students and staff (LGBTQ) who need protection from discrimination.
Christine Perkins, principal at Howe Sound secondary, wants education leaders to press school districts to address the issue of homophobia in schools. That includes creating policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Perkins made her appeal in the October edition of Adminfo, a publication of the B.C. Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association. She congratulated the districts that already have such policies – 27, at last count – and urged the remainder to get moving.
“For those of you who have not gone down this path yet, I encourage you to be courageous educational leaders,” she writes. “You may be surprised to know that you already have the support of both CUPE and BCTF.”
The unions have been pressing for anti-homophobia policies for years.
The article says Perkins has worked with Sea-to-Sky district stakeholders to develop a policy to ensure safety and respect for everyone in that district, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Making our schools safer will help facilitate increased learning and achievement and after all, that is what we all want,” she concludes.
Meanwhile, Daily Xtra has reported that two more school districts are expected to approve anti-homophobia policies early next year.
Prince George and Port Alberni school trustees voted unanimously in November to release draft policies for a 60-day review by stakeholders and the public.
The gay newspaper says that decision represents a significant change in Prince George, where school trustees had rejected the idea of a stand-alone policy just last year.
But Susan Trabant, who helps with a gay-straight alliance in one of the secondary schools, said advocates of a separate policy wouldn’t give up. “Everybody who has been fighting for this – and we have a lot of support from the union – were not willing to walk away and back down from this,” she’s quoted as saying. “It was important to keep fighting and fighting.”
Trustee Trish Bella told Daily Xtra that members of the public persuaded her that the issue needed to be reconsidered. There were complaints that sexual-orientation protections were spread over several policies, which was confusing for LGBT students and their families.