Canada: Vancouver School Board votes tonight on Gender Identity Policy

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Following extensive consultation that at times became contentious and divisive, the Vancouver School Board is poised to approve its Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policy on June 16.

This policy provides much needed guidance for students, teachers and parents.

Following extensive consultation that at times became contentious and divisive, the Vancouver School Board is poised to approve its Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policy on June 16 (7:00 pm, VSB offices).

Over four public meetings, the School Board heard from more than 90 delegations representing students, parents and health care providers that affirmed both the urgent need for this policy and that the clear, pragmatic guidelines within meet evidence-based best practices supported by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.

"For years at school, I had to sneak off to the hockey rink or school basement to use the bathroom, or not pee at all," shares Cory Oskam, a 17-year old student at Britannia Secondary who transitioned from female to male at age 15. "This policy provides much needed guidance for students, teachers and parents."

"It's vital to learning that all students feel safe and welcome at schools. We applaud the School Board's leadership to ensure support for transgender students and children who fall outside the gender norm," said Drew Dennis, one of the spokespeople for the BC Safer Schools Coalition (BCSaferSchools.com), which has formed to support the proposed changes to the School Board’s current LBGT policy.

The policy to be approved (see link below) was developed over three years by a subcommittee of the Vancouver School Board that had representatives from all education stakeholders including parents, students, teachers, unions, and administration. It recommends, for example, that trans and gender non-conforming students be accommodated in their use of preferred pronouns, reducing sex-segregated activities, creating gender-neutral washrooms and change rooms wherever possible, and where there are gendered facilities, permitting students to use the facility which conforms most closely with their gender identity. Students are entitled to confidentiality with respect to their gender identity; and will not be referred for ‘reparative therapy’.

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Morgane Oger

Drew Dennis
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Trans Alliance Society of British Columbia
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