While two rallies faced off in Vancouver yesterday (April 23) over Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) policies in B.C. schools, one Metro Vancouver school district is in the midst of seeking public feedback on their SOGI policy which is currently in development.
The Richmond School District No. 38 is seeking feedback on a draft policy, which includes a policy statement, administrative guidelines, and regulations, that is available online.
In 2016, the B.C. Ministry of Education directed schools to update their district codes of conduct to include gender identity and gender expression, to align with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the B.C. Human Rights Code.
Richmond has been the last remaining Lower Mainland school district without a policy to do so.
On November 7, 2016, the Rainbow Club made a presentation to the Richmond School Board to ask for a specific policy to address LGBT discrimination. A motion was carried unanimously for staff to create a report on an antihomophobia policy.
Subsequently, the Richmond School Board passed a resolution on February 20, 2017, to create a SOGI policy working group, which developed the draft policy.
The draft policy states that the school district accepts the responsibility to create safe and caring environments and that "LGBTQ+ community have a right to be recognized and affirmed by school district personnel, and have equal access to services".
Among the numerous points in the draft policy are administrative guidelines that state that all individuals have the right to keep their assigned sex at birth private at school or work (all medical information for students and staff will be kept confidential); to be addressed by name or pronoun according to their gender identity; and have access to the gender-appropriate washrooms, locker rooms, changing facilities, physical education classes, sports and any gender-based activities,
In addition, guidelines state that language used in rules and practices will be as neutral as possible.
The school district is seeking feedback, which can be done online (in English or Mandarin) until June 4.
The first of two public SOGI information sessions will be held today (April 24) from 7 to 8:15 p.m. at Palmer Secondary School (8160 St. Albans Road), with a second session will be held on May 5 from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Feedback will be reviewed from June 5 to 26. A public board meeting will be held on June 27 to vote on the policy.