Parents take Vancouver School Board to B.C. Supreme Court for trans policy

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      The controversy that arose over the Vancouver School Board's updates to its sexual orientation and gender identities policy is not over yet.

      On October 31, a group of Vancouver parents filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court to request a judicial review of the Vancouver School Board's policy, which was updated in June.

      Xiaofeng Huang, Yuen Ching Li, and Shaohui Liu claim that the policy violates the School Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

      The two points of the policy that the parents are concerned about, according to lawyer Masao Morinaga, are trans* students being permitted to use the washroom and change rooms of their choice and whether or not parents will be informed about their child's gender-related behaviour in school.

      The petition is also challenging the policy's use of the term trans*, rather than the terms transgender or transsexual, due to concerns that the umbrella term trans* is too wide-ranging.

      Morinaga clarified with the Georgia Straight that the petitioners are not against other parts of the policy.

      The petition includes 187 affidavits: 178 are from parents and 9 include VSB material obtained following a Freedom of Information request.

      On June 16, VSB trustees voted 7-2 to approve the changes to clarify the details of the board's 2004 sexual orientation and gender identities policy.

      The two trustees who voted against the policy, Ken Denike and Sophia Woo, were expelled from the Non-Partisan Association on June 13 for launching a news conference before the vote that the party regarded as lacking sensitivity and understanding of the LGBT community. Denike and Woo suggested that the policy could lead to a decline in enrolment of international students.  

      In reaction to Denike and Woo's actions, Vision school board chair Patti Bacchus had emphasized in a news release that the school board is committed to developing "a learning environment that is safe and inclusive for students of all backgrounds, including LGBTTQ students”.

      The policy was designed to help create a more inclusive environment for students, particularly those who are trans, and to address transphobia issues (which can affect all students).

      Denike and Woo are running for re-election with the Vancouver First party. Bacchus is also running for re-election under the Vision Vancouver banner.

      The VSB has not yet filed a response to the petition.

      Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly suggested that Ken Denike and Sophia Woo had suggested that the LBGTQ+ policy could lead to a decline in Vancouver real-estate values. That error has been corrected.

      Comments

      10 Comments

      MD

      Nov 12, 2014 at 7:22pm

      Always nauseated by those that benefit from specific Charter protections trying to deny those same protections to others

      Forest

      Nov 12, 2014 at 7:55pm

      Again? Do we really need to exhume this tired fight? And how could anyone construe that the VSB policy revision in any way violates Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms? If anything, the VSB revisions are in keeping with Charter requirements. To be clear - once again , for the edification of Huang, Li and Lui - trans students are not "allowed to be able to use washrooms and change rooms of their choice'. In fact, they are now able to use one singular bathroom set aside for potential use. That's it. A private lockable wheel chair accessible stall behind the gym somewhere. And yes, trans students deserve privacy just like any other students - and that includes privacy from family homes (such as yours?) which may not be such safe places. So please Msr/Mdme Huang, Li and Lui, get your minds out of the gutter, educate yourself about sexual identity and stop wasting Vancouver taxpayers' dollars on this nuisance suit.

      bobo

      Nov 13, 2014 at 12:20pm

      How idiotic that the school board ever considered such a useless policy. I'm sure there will now be an outpouring of young lads who think they might be trans, so they should probably use the girl's restroom. Funny how the left can push it's agenda on schoolchildren under the banner of "equality" but let a straight person try to achieve equality and see how intolerant the left wingers are. Why do adults keep pushing their agenda's on the back of schoolchildren????

      What planet are these people from?

      Nov 13, 2014 at 12:36pm

      Totally out of touch with this progressive place in 2014. Here's an idea: why don't you leave and put your children in school in a more backward, unenlightened country of your choice? There are many to choose from. I want my children to go to school without having hate and prejudice. Outrageous.

      Shawn

      Nov 13, 2014 at 1:13pm

      As a gay man I find the policy troubling. Parents deserve to know what is going on in their children's lives. After being sodomised repeatedly by a teacher who took advantage of my questioning my sexuality as a teenager - and gave me HIV, I find it shocking that anyone would trust teachers. In my experience those that aren't active paedophiles cover up for those who are.

      Hi Lo

      Nov 13, 2014 at 7:56pm

      "Denike and Woo suggested that the policy could lead to a decline in enrolment of international students. .... An earlier version of this article mistakenly suggested that Ken Denike and Sophia Woo had suggested that the LBGTQ+ policy could lead to a decline in Vancouver real-estate values. That error has been corrected." Admitting an error, correcting an error, Straight showed professional journalism in doing that. Unfortunately, some media still insist on reporting rumour instead of facts.

      Lynn

      Nov 15, 2014 at 1:30am

      I might well understand a transsexual student needing to use a bathroom more in keeping with their changing sex but I would strongly object it if my daughter was forced to share a private area with a transgender male no matter what clothes he might decide to wear. They are NOT the same.

      Saba

      Nov 15, 2014 at 11:24pm

      I think VSB has to review their decision . this policy will bring lot of destruction and will be miss use for sure . Most of families have to leave Vancouver for their children safety . Its not a good sign for development of any city cuz strong families build strong economy and nation . WAKE UP

      CJ

      Nov 15, 2014 at 11:29pm

      People fear what they don't understand. I run a special needs class and we have a student in our school who is transgender. They use our accessible bathroom when needed instead of forcing the student to use a bathroom of a gender they don't associate with. Sadly, its an issue of ignorance and fear.

      Jonathan

      Nov 19, 2014 at 2:25pm

      Those are you fearing that students will "act" trans just to get a peek in the locker room really need to get a grip. Seeing how kids commonly tease each other with trans* slurs, gay slurs etc.—the very reason that trans* students and their parents are looking for some support from their schools—do you REALLY think that some curious student will want to go through what LGBT youth go through just for the thrill of getting into places they normally wouldn't have access to? Let's not forget that sexual orientation and gender identity are not necessarily related. Do you REALLY think that it is worth it to them when they can see more explicit things online on their smartphones?

      You need to stop equating things you dont understand with danger. The kids in groups who get bullied, and those most likely to commit suicide due to lack of support, those are the kids in real danger. And the fear you teach them at home, that ignorance is to blame, not a policy put in place to create a safe space for all. Why don't you ask educated questions rather than make assumptions based on fear?