Policy to ensure that 'homophobic complaints are taken seriously' adopted in the Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Policy to ensure that 'homophobic complaints are taken seriously' adopted in the Okanagan

Central Okanagan Public Schools has updated its discrimination policy to include gender neutral pronouns.
January 20, 2020 - 8:00 AM

Central Okanagan Public Schools amended its policies to ensure staff and students are not discriminated against based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Most of it was just housekeeping, just to make sure we had the wording correctly and to bring it up to date. We’ve had students… who have said they felt that the wording needed to be updated,” board chair Moyra Baxter said.

“The purpose of this policy is to define appropriate behaviours and actions in order to prevent discrimination and harassment through greater awareness of and responsiveness to their negative effects,” according to the meeting agenda.

“This policy will also help to ensure that homophobic complaints are taken seriously and dealt with expeditiously and effectively through consistently applied policy and procedures. The policy will also raise awareness and improve understanding of the lives of people who identify themselves on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The amendments changed previous discrimination policy wording to use gender-neutral language, using the pronouns “their” and “they” to replace his/her and includes a new definition of bisexual which “can refer to people who are romantically, emotionally and/or sexually involved with people with any gender.”

It also expands the definition of LGBTQ+ to include other terms, not limited to “ Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning,” and includes an amendment so board trustees are included in a harassment policy.

The South Okanagan School District has a Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity procedure that states that every student has the right to be addressed by a name and pronoun that corresponds to their gender identity and that the district expects all employees and students to adhere to a code that prohibits any form of discrimination.

The Kamloops-Thompson School District updated its policies to include gender identity discrimination a few years ago and in 2019, the district created a guiding administrative document around sexual orientation and gender identity, said Vessy Mochikas, director of Instruction with the district.

“Every school in our district has a SOGI school lead,” Mochikas said. These leads act as liaisons for the school and can offer additional support for parents and students.

The administrative document also addresses language and the use of pronouns, which are respected for both staff and students, Mochikas said.

North Okanagan School District has two policies that promote inclusivity in the schools, regardless of students' sexual orientation or gender identity.


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