Not enough is being done to make Langley schools safe, inclusive places for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning (LGBTQ) students, according to a report made to the Langley Board of Education on June 18.
Though Langley School District documents adhere to Ministry of Education standards and the human rights code, LGBTQ students feel that what’s written on paper is not being put into action.
Last September the Board of Education created an ad hoc committee to explore the needs of LGBTQ students in Langley.
It held 11 sessions with 141 students, staff, parents and community partners.
They also met with former LGBTQ students to hear reflections on their high school experiences.
The results show a very passionate movement among students to create acceptance within their schools.
Trustee Megan Dykeman, who served on the committee, says she felt moved and changed by the process.
“It was a most eye-opening experience,” she said.
There were also a mix of all types of students who participated, some who were part of the LGBTQ community and others who were not, added Trustee Alison McVeigh, also a member of the committee.
All the students came with real determination and commitment, she said.
“The most compelling was the voice of the students. It was very much a journey.”
Of the many comments and stories told to the committee, several themes emerged, particularly revolving around student safety.
Tolerance of LGBTQ students, parents and staff in schools is not good enough, the committee was told. Acceptance is the goal.
There is also a lack of awareness of the challenges these students and staff face, and proper education of the school community is key to moving forward.
And above all, code of conducts already in place need to be enforced. The students want action, but they feel a new standalone policy would segregate them even more.
“It would be irresponsible of us as a school district to know this information and not act on it,” said assistant superintendent Claire Guy, who presented the report to the board.
There was a very strong voice among the people who participated, she added, and the board cannot “un-know” the information they have learned.
In response, the Board of Education passed a motion to make revisions to the current student harassment and employee harassment policies to include specific LGBTQ language.