Manitoba

Teachers union raises LGBT issues with Hanover trustees

Manitoba Teachers' Society president, Norman Gould, spoke to Hanover School Division trustees on Wednesday about how the board can make schools in the area more inclusive for LGBT students.

'We get that this topic triggers emotional reactions,' says Manitoba Teachers' Society president

Manitoba Teachers' Society president, Norman Gould, spoke to Hanover School Division trustees on Wednesday (CBC)

Manitoba Teachers' Society president, Norman Gould, spoke to Hanover School Division trustees on Wednesday about how the board can make schools in the area more inclusive for LGBT students.

"It was very important for the Manitoba Teachers' Society to be on the record in this community," said Gould after his presentation.

Public Interest Law Centre has filed a human rights complaint, on behalf of Michelle McHale and Karen Phillips, against the Hanover School Division over its policy to ban teachers from discussing same sex relationships in elementary and middle school classrooms.

McHale, who is also the spokesperson for Steinbach Pride and was present for Gould's speech, believes her son is bullied for having two moms.

During his presentation, Gould said teachers have the responsibility to make schools safe for all students.

"Successes of the LGBTTQ civil rights movement in North America and the more prominent role openly gay people are playing in the public eye have heightened the awareness of the necessity for our schools and our communities to be more responsive and reflective faster than some of us are prepared or ready for," Gould said.

"Change isn't easy. We get that this topic triggers emotional reactions in some people."

Gould said 10 years ago LGBT issues were rarely discussed in classrooms and that absence caused pain for many students.

"The suicides of some LGBTTQ youth have forced us all to think about what we need to do," he said.

Gould distributed a report to trustees on Wednesday about LGBT issues and said the union is available to help trustees develop policies to make classrooms, hallways and school yards welcoming for all students, regardless of their sexuality or family background.

"The Manitoba Teachers Society is here tonight to extend that hand of friendship and collaboration to you the Hanover School Division board of trustees. We are offering our services, our expertise," said Gould.

"We are here to work with you."

After Gould's presentation, Hanover trustees said they would discuss Gould's message and will follow up with the union at a later date.

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