Regina school board promises clarity, 'definite direction' after defeat of Pride motion
Motion defeated at Tuesday board meeting was meant to affirm schools' rights to celebrate Pride as they choose
The Regina Public School Board says it will work toward "clarity and some more definite direction," following the defeat Tuesday night of a motion aimed at ensuring schools would be allowed to continue to celebrate Pride as they wish.
The failure of the motion does not mean schools have banned LGBTQ Pride celebrations, the director of education at Regina Public Schools says.
The motion, voted on during an emotional Tuesday night school board meeting, would have made a school's right to celebrate Pride as it sees fit official, and was meant to solidify the school board's stance on supporting Pride for schools that want to celebrate. The motion was defeated in a 4-3 vote.
The result, however, doesn't change what public schools have done up to this point, which is decide individually how to celebrate Pride at their school.
"This vote does NOT mean that Regina Public Schools, the division, or individual schools must stop celebrating pride," Greg Enion, director of education at Regina Public Schools, said in a message sent out to all staff at Regina Public. The message was sent in consultation with the chair of the board, Katherine Gagne, who voted no to the motion.
"It does NOT mean any change in how we respect all students and staff, and how all belong at Regina Public Schools," the message read.
It goes on to say that the board will send the issue to subcommittees and administration, in an effort to "create some clarity and some more definite direction" around how events such as Pride are celebrated in the division. The message also said more information will be released as it becomes available.
School board trustee Aleana Young, who first introduced the motion in June, said she was disappointed by the outcome of the vote, and particularly by complaints from her colleagues about process and timing.
"I believe my colleagues are sincere, but as I said tonight, I brought this motion forward in June. It is now mid-October. We've had several months to have discussions and to work out something that was more agreeable," she said on Tuesday.
"I thought that it would be a simple matter of our public school division sending a message from the top that Pride celebrations are fine and something we support."
Young added that she hopes the process to resolve this now doesn't drag on.
"[Parents] have the option … to keep their children home from school if they don't like the [Pride] flag flying outside of their elementary school. However, our LGBTQ students don't have the opportunity to stay home from school every day if our schools aren't safe and welcoming."
Gagne,the board's chair, said she voted against the motion because she "didn't have clarity on what the motion was actually saying."
"As I sat and listened to the trustees ... I heard that there was confusion around what the wording of the motion actually was," she said.
"We don't want to just say yes to something that we're not even sure what we're saying yes to."
Gagne said that there is now an opportunity for more discussion and a more concrete resolution in the future, but there is no timeline right now for when the board will resolve the issue.
'A lot of things go to die in committees'
According to a Facebook post on its page, the UR Pride Centre for Sexuality and Gender Diversity — a non-profit service provider housed at the University of Regina — is holding a meeting with its board of directors Wednesday night.
"We invite you to reach out to us to share how you feel we can best support this ongoing initiative," the post partly reads.
Jacq Brasseur, executive director of UR Pride, attended the school board meeting and said they can understand the trustees' concerns about process, but said that they felt many young students left the meeting feeling like their concerns weren't a priority.
"I think a lot of things go to die in committees and I think that that's where a lot of the fear comes from, is we don't know what's gonna happen next," they said.
"My call to the trustees and the call from LGBT people in Regina is to do better and to show us that there is actually going to be work done behind the defeat of the motion."
Brasseur said that they think for some people, the motion felt like protection against a possible future motion banning Pride celebrations.
"I think people were hoping for something set in stone that would ensure the rights of Regina Public School students to continue celebrating Pride at a school level, and that wasn't done," they said.
"I think that scares a lot of LGBT students."