New human rights policy passed by Waterloo Region District School Board trustees

Trustees with the Waterloo Region District School Board approved a new human rights policy during its meeting Monday night.

Board says it 'has a duty to maintain an environment respectful of human rights'

Waterloo Region District School Board sign outside their main office.
The Waterloo Region District School Board has passed a new human rights policy to handle complaints from students and employees who feel they're being discriminated against or harassed. (Waterloo Region District School Board/Twitter)

Trustees with the Waterloo Region District School Board have approved a new human rights policy.

There was no discussion about the new policy Monday night as trustees approved the minutes of the last committee meeting on April 19, officially putting the new policy into place.

Deepa Ahluwalia, the board's human rights and equity advisor, told CBC K-W last month that the policy is meant to ensure everyone's basic human rights are met.

"People are experiencing discrimination and harassment based on their race, or religion or their sexual identity," she said. "We decided we wanted to create a human rights policy to bring focus to human rights and to really solidify our commitment to creating an organizational culture that is founded on the principles of human rights."

The board has in the past used an equity and inclusion policy, Ahluwalia said, but in the past year, she said they've come to realize equity and human rights are different.

'An environment respectful of human rights'

The policy covers complaints of discrimination or harassment experienced by students and employees.

It says people cannot be harassed or discriminated against for a number of reasons including:

  • Age.
  • Religion.
  • Race.
  • Gender identity or expression.
  • Sexual orientation.
  • Disability.
  • Citizenship.
  • Place of origin.
  • Receiving public assistance for housing.
  • Family or marital status.

"The policy also prohibits discrimination or harassment based on any combination of these grounds," a draft of the policy reads.

The policy also says the school board "has a duty to maintain an environment respectful of human rights and free of discrimination and harassment for all employees and individuals."

The newly approved policy will be added to the WRDSB website in the coming days, staff said.

Ahluwalia said the policy will impact students and employers by helping build trust with racialized and marginalized groups who have felt their concerns about the school system aren't heard.

"I'm really hoping that through this process we can start to regain that trust and really demonstrate that we want to resolve these situations and we're committed to doing so and that we are taking these complaints very seriously," she said.

Listen to the full interview with Deepa Ahluwalia:


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