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STAHN: When is it time to listen to the students?

November 14, 2014 - 7:27 AM

Students and teachers have been asking for it. A petition with more than 770 student signatures was submitted to the school board last year. This year another 300 students have already signed another petition.

Yet an anti-homophobic harassment policy still does not exist in our schools.

The bureaucratic process has its place. Legally steps need to be taken to ensure everything is as it should be. In nearly two dozen school districts around the province, that has meant creating a specific policy to deal with homophobic harassment.

Sadly, Kamloops is not one of those districts.

Last year the Kamloops-Thompson School District Board of Education decided the anti-bullying policy in place was enough and that a specific policy wasn’t needed to deal with homophobic harassment.

The students have made themselves clear that it’s not though. Some of those who identify as gay, lesbian and bisexual don’t feel safe according to Nakota Oates, the coordinator of the latest petition effort. She has friends who have been beaten and harassed, who have changed schools because of the harassment and continue to fear people finding out who they really are.

In two weeks the quiet student has gathered nearly 300 signatures at her school, and she plans to keep going until she has at least 400 signatures. She will first submit it to her principal in the hopes of getting a policy in place for South Kamloops Secondary School, and then will look at taking it to the board again.

Her ambition and dedication to the cause is inspiring. While the school board trustees might acknowledge her for coming forward they don’t seem to realize these kids that are scared and in hiding are doing so, at least in part, because of their inaction.

Ultimately they are elected as school trustees to help protect our children and to ensure they get the education they deserve. If the students are yelling out that they don’t feel safe, shouldn’t the trustees be listening?

To contact a reporter, email Jennifer Stahn at or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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