Parents

Getting an LGBTQ-inclusive policy at your school board

Making change at your local school can involve a lot of work in your immediate community. At the same time, there are also things that can be done at a regional level to benefit your local school, as well as all schools in the region. Working with your local school district or board to implement an LGBTQ-inclusive ‘equity policy’ at a regional level is a powerful step towards creating safe and more inclusive schools for everyone. Here are some things to consider when working towards such a policy:

1) Do your homework!

Clearly it’s important to know what policies are already in place at a regional level. Check out the board or district website for links to policy documents. You could also give them a call and ask directly for policies relating to equity, inclusive education or discrimination, codes of conduct, etc. See what exists already, and what is covered. It can also be useful to find out what (if anything) is mandated by your provincial or territorial Ministry of Education regarding LGBTQ equity and inclusive education. Check the Ministry’s website or give them a call to find out what guidelines they provide. To get information on the factual basis for an inclusive education policy, take a look at Egale Canada’s Every Class in Every School: The first national climate survey on homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in Canadian schools.

2) Compare and contrast

To get a sense of what a comprehensive policy looks like, take a look at the School Board Policy section of MyGSA.ca. These policies are particularly comprehensive because they address the safety and acceptance of students based on a number of factors, as well as explicitly including their sexual orientation AND gender identity or gender expression. Compare and contrast your region’s existing policies with some of these. What's covered already, and what needs to be improved?

Note: Including gender identity and expression are particularly important elements in the creation of safe and more inclusive spaces for trans-identified as well as gender-variant and gender non-conforming youth. These areas are often overlooked in policy, leaving all students exposed to gender-policing and other forms of bullying.

3) Identify allies!

Creating or updating board/district policy isn’t always easy, and so it’s important to rally a network of allies from across the region if you plan on making a lasting impact. Try to reach out locally to other supportive parents and families from your school. At the same time, it is often worthwhile to connect with regional parent groups as well as other LGBTQ organizations and service providers as they may have networks of parents from which you can seek further support. Local and regional teachers’ associations may also be able to connect you with educators who are supportive of your work. Finally, you will most likely want to reach out to your own school trustee and other regional trustees to get a sense of where they stand on these issues. Start by checking out the MyGSA.ca Resource Section for a list of potential allies in your area.

4) Get organized!

Once you’ve done your background research and have reached out to potentially supportive board trustees, senior staff and community members, start organizing a proposal to the board or district. This may involve getting your issue on the agenda of a school board/district meeting. If you have a supportive trustee, ask them to get it on the agenda, if not, find out what options are available for parents to address the board or district representatives (e.g. public deputations, written proposals). Either way, you will most likely have to ask that the board conduct a thorough review into existing policy, after which they will have a better understanding of how to best work towards LGBTQ safe and more inclusive schools policy with stronger supports for LGBTQ students.

5) Stay organized!

This kind of work can get more than a little complicated, and so it can be a good idea to keep clear notes. If you’re working in a group, consider taking ‘minutes’ where you document the discussion topics and decisions that come up at meetings, and what actions are being taken by whom. This will make staying organized easier. If everything you do is digital, make sure you back up your material frequently!