Calgary school board backs new Alberta gender rights rules

The Calgary Board of Education says is ready to comply with new provincial guidelines on gender diversity for Alberta students, including things like private washrooms and allowing students to play on sports teams that reflect their gender identity.

Board official says it has the resources to support its staff in handling any situations

The Calgary Board of Education says it is ready to implement the province's new LGBT gender expression guidelines. (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)

The Calgary Board of Education doesn't expect any problems complying with the province's new guidelines for respecting students' gender identity.

The guidelines were released by Education Minister David Eggen on Wednesday in Edmonton.

The document advises school boards to develop policies that let students choose which washroom they wish to use, what name appears on their report cards or which sports teams they wish to play on.

School boards have been given until the end of March to approve their own policies which must conform with the provincial guidelines.

Education Minister David Eggen speaks to reporters about the new policy guidelines on gender expression for Alberta schools. (CBC)

The supervisor of psychological services at the CBE, Tamara Gordon, said the division's policy is nearly ready.

"In reviewing those guidelines, there's nothing particularly new that we're going to be addressing differently. I think the guidelines are going to be a great support to our system."

"I think that they'll have a pretty profound impact on school boards in general across our province," Gordon said.

I'm out as trans at school and there's no issue. People respect pronouns so I don't think the policies will cause much of a stir at school.- Sam Dyck, Grade 12 student

Most CBE schools have private areas in their washrooms or stalls that can accommodate student's privacy concerns.

Gordon said gay-straight alliances are common in CBE schools and students are given the opportunity to take part on the sports teams that reflect their gender identity.

She said the CBE has resources available to assist teachers and staff if they have any specific questions about a student's needs.

'Safe environment'

The head of the Alberta Teachers' Association is applauding the new rules.

Mark Ramsankar feels the guidelines will help ensure students can have a safe environment at school which is conducive to learning.

Mark Ramsankar of the Alberta Teacher's Association says the new guidelines are needed and will contribute to a more inclusive learning experience. (CBC )

He has a message for anyone who doesn't think this policy should be a priority for Alberta students and school staff.

"I would simply ask them, Where would they put a safe environment for a child, where would they put that on their priority list?" Ramsankar said.

"As far as I'm concerned, and where Alberta teachers sit, having the best environment for students is a must if we're talking about student learning."

A transgender grade 12 student in Calgary, Sam Dyck, tells CBC News he doesn't think the provincial guidelines will be a big deal at his school.

"I'm out as trans at school and there's no issue. People respect pronouns so I don't think the policies will cause much of a stir at school," said Dyck.

He feels the benefits of having a policy will outweigh any cons, especially for other school divisions that may not be at the same level as the CBE in respecting gender identity rights.