Richmond school board votes to adopt LGBT–inclusive SOGI policy

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      A long-running debate in Richmond over an LGBT–inclusive policy in schools reached its apex yesterday at a school board meeting.

      Protesters and supporters gathered at J.N. Burnett Secondary School on June 27 as educators, students, and parents attended the meeting to voice opinions both for and against a sexual orientation and gender identity policy.

      The effort to adopt the policy dates back to 2016 when the Rainbow Club, a gay-straight alliance at Steveston-London Secondary, made a presentation to the school board to request an antihomophobia policy.

      A motion, carried unanimously, initiated a SOGI policy working group in February 2017 to work on a draft policy, and in April of this year, Richmond School District No. 38 sought feedback on the draft until June 4.

      Ultimately, the school board voted 6-1 to adopt Policy 106, according to CBC News.

      Controversy over and protests against such policies have previously arisen in Burnaby in 2011 and Vancouver in 2014 when school boards sought to update their policies.

      However, UBC researchers have found that as transphobia and homophobia are used to bully both straight and LGBT students, policies against such discrimination benefits all students.

      The province's SOGI 123 program consists of three main components: updating codes of conduct to address bullying and harassment based on gender identity and sexual orientation, to align with the Canadian Charter of Rights and the B.C. Human Rights Code; cultivating inclusive environments; and using curriculum to reflect and teach about diversity.

      In addition to Richmond being one of the last school districts in the province to adopt the policy, the city has also lagged behind other Lower Mainland municipalities in LGBT progress and visibility, having neither a rainbow crosswalk nor Pride events like others such as Vancouver, Surrey, and New Westminster.

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