Saskatchewan

Gender and sexual diversity training program approved by Regina public school board

The program will now be designed by the school division's diversity committee.

Program will now be designed by school division's diversity committee

Regina's public school board voted unanimously in favour of gender and sexual diversity training for teachers and staff. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Regina's public school board has unanimously approved training for teachers and staff about gender and sexual diversity. 

The Tuesday evening vote means Regina Public Schools' special committee on diversity can now create a training program.

The diversity committee and the new professional development were created in reaction to an October 2019 motion that proposed schools be allowed decide how to celebrate pride. The motion was defeated by the school board at the time. 

"By passing the [new] motion unanimously, the trustees have stated that what the board did in 2019 was a mistake," said Kent Peterson, the spokesperson for Queen City for All. 

The new, unanimously approved motion said Regina Public Schools wants to install values of knowledge, dignity and worth of the individual. 

"When the [previous] motion was defeated, it sent a shockwave, it sent a chill through the community. It told LGBTQ young people that they might not be safe in their school. And if there's one place a young person should feel safe, it's in their classroom," Peterson said. 

Kent Peterson is a spokesperson for Queen City for All in Regina. (Submitted by Kent Peterson )

Peterson said the new school board is finally setting the record straight and showing that LGBTQ members are welcome. He said this is the first step in repairing that damaged relationship.

"It's not just good enough to to say that we made a mistake in 2019, but rather that we're going to take steps to build on this," Peterson said. "So that's quite a distance to go in about 18 months."

We want to make sure that we give our staff all the tools they need to fully support our students. And this is another step in that direction.- Trustee Lacey Weekes

Peterson said he hopes the committee consult queer and trans people on their experiences when building the training.

School board trustee Lacey Weekes proposed the new motion. She said it was important the board show it is supportive of the committee and its work. 

"We want to make sure that we give our staff all the tools they need to fully support our students. And this is another step in that direction," Weekes said in an interview Wednesday. 

Weekes said the training is in the committee's hands, but she hopes it will include proper language and pronouns around gender and sexual diverse people. People may not realize how many staff members and students are a part of the LGBTQ community, Weekes said. 

"That's part of this training and this awareness," she said. "We need to make sure that we are constantly learning and growing together 

'Uncomfortable questions' still linger: Peterson 

Peterson said that despite the important unanimous vote, there were some "uncomfortable moments." One trustee asked if there would be members of faith on the diversity committee. Peterson said that was uncomfortable, as queer people can be members of faith as well.

"I do worry that some of those sentiments that led to the defeat of the motion a year and a half ago are still bubbling there beneath the surface, as though there are two sides to the debate of inclusion and diversity, because of course there are not," Peterson said. 

The head of the committee told the trustee that members of faith were welcome on the diversity committee. 

now