April 27, 2015 - 4:32 PM
SALMON ARM - The North Okanagan-Shuswap school board has turned down an anti-abortion group’s request to use school property for a pro-life display.
The Shuswap Pro-Life Society asked to use school district property near Centenoka Park Mall for a one-day display of 10,000 little pink and blue flags, each representing 10 babies lost to abortion every year in Canada. Trustee Kelly Rowe says for her, voting against the request was an easy decision.
“We felt it was a controversial topic and to have it on public or school board property, in a very visual location, we just didn’t feel like it’s something we should do. For me, I felt it would make it look like we were in support of that,” Rowe says. “As a board, we cannot take a stance on either side of the coin, in my opinion.”
One of the concerns raised at the board meeting was the display could also create discomfort among students.
“It’s probably no secret there have been students in… our district, where there’s been, occasionally, a young person that has found themselves expecting, and there may be some that have taken other avenues, so I strongly felt we should not have a public opinion on (it) and one of the trustees did mention it may make certain students feel uncomfortable,” Rowe says.
The district does lease space to community groups for meetings, but board members pointed out that was different from a public, outdoor display because people could choose to attend.
Trustee Larissa Lutjen says the discussion revealed a gap in the district’s policies for how to handle such requests, something the board will be working to establish in the future.
“I think it’s important the policy strikes a balance between freedom of speech and protecting our students, and protecting the district itself,” Lutjen says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015