More B.C. school districts adopt antihomophobia policies

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      Although June is Pride Month across North America, Vancouver's Pride parade doesn't take place on August 5. Nonetheless, local school districts have been giving British Columbians reasons to be proud of them by implementing measures to counter queer discrimination.

      Over the past few months, several school districts have been considering, working on, or adopting standalone antihomophobia policies.

      Antihomophobia policies can potentially address not just harassment but also systemic discrimination against and exclusion of queer people (including derogatory slang expressions not necessarily directed at individuals such as "That's so gay").

      On April 10, West Vancouver became the 17th school district to adopt an antihomophobia policy.

      It was followed by the Sunshine Coast (which includes Gibsons, Sechelt, and Roberts Creek), which became the 18th school district to do so on June 12.

      This past week, Saanich became the 19th school district to follow suit on June 20.

      Districts that are in the process of considering adopting an antihomophobia policy include Surrey, New Westminster, Fraser-Cascade, and Bulkley Valley school boards.

      Districts that have already adopted an antihomophobia policy include Vancouver, North Vancouver, Chilliwack, Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Comox Valley, Fort Nelson, and Burnaby.

      An October 2007 ministerial order required all of B.C.'s 60 school districts to ensure that their codes of conduct incorporated one or more statements from the B.C. Human Rights Code regarding discrimination.

      Unfortunately, the code does not cover discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

      On June 1, B.C. premier Christy Clark unveiled a 10-point antibullying plan that included addressing harassment based upon sexual orientation.

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