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Policy change meant to address homophobia concerns

January 23, 2015 - 7:29 PM

KAMLOOPS - Nearly two years after teacher Don Wilson asked the school district to consider an anti-homophobic harassment policy the district appears ready to act, but not exactly what Wilson was looking for.

The district is preparing to replace a section of the policy entitled ‘Race Relations’ with ‘Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights.’ The policy, while more broad than originally asked for, will now specifically cite sexual orientation and gender identity, something that was missing from previous policies.

In May 2013, Wilson asked the district to look at a policy for an anti-homophobic harassment policy after witnessing administration and staff deal with a gay student who was bullied in a way he did not feel was accepting of that student.

“The administration perspective seemed to me to be (that) the victim invited the harassment and intimidation because he was so 'campy.' If he didn't act so gay, there wouldn't be a problem,” Wilson said at the time. “There was more discomfort than appropriate action. As a teacher, I found it all quite confusing, and my second-guessing the administration was not at all appreciated.”

Later that month a student-driven petition began and was later turned in to the district with more than 770 signatures. At the beginning of the next school year, administration surveyed staff, students and parents and while not a lot of specific concern for homophobia was indicated through those surveys, the school year ended with administration preparing a slight update to the policy, which the board is now set to adopt Feb. 2.

The new policy says the intent "is to ensure that an environment of tolerance and respect is fostered, promoted and supported throughout the district’s working and learning community, specifically for sexual orientation, racial and gender diversity."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infonews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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