No specific policies, but division says Saskatoon public schools can determine 'best way' to celebrate Pride

As the Regina Public School Division deals with fallout from voting down a motion intended to ensure schools can determine how they celebrate LGBTQ Pride events, the Saskatoon Public School Division says it aims to make all students feel welcome — but that it has no specific policies about Pride celebrations.

Regina school board defeated motion this week that would ensure schools can decide how to observe LGBTQ Pride

The Saskatoon Pride parade weaves its way through downtown Saskatoon in 2017. The Saskatoon Public School Division marches in the parade and says it invites staff, students and their families to join them. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

As the Regina Public School Division deals with fallout from voting down a motion focused on how schools celebrate LGBTQ Pride events, the Saskatoon Public School Division says it aims to make all students feel welcome — but that it has no specific policies about Pride celebrations.

On Tuesday, trustees with the Regina division's board of education voted down a motion 4 -3 that would ensure school communities are free to determine how they celebrate Pride.

In practice, Regina schools are currently able to determine what kind of Pride celebrations will take place, but the motion was tabled as a way to make that official policy.

Saskatoon Public Schools said in a statement that while it lets schools decide how to celebrate Pride, the division "does not have any pertinent administrative procedures or policies" to make that official.

"At Saskatoon Public Schools, we want every student to feel known, valued, and believed in," the statement said.

"Like many events, schools would determine what is the best way to acknowledge and celebrate Pride based on the school community." 

The statement went on to explain that as a division, Saskatoon Public participates in the city's Pride parade and invites its staff to do so, with students and families welcome to take part with the division. 

At a packed meeting Tuesday, the Regina Public School Division board defeated a motion that would have made schools' right to determine how to celebrate Pride official division policy. (Emily Pasiuk/CBC)

The Regina public division noted in its statement earlier this week that it will now send the issue to subcommittee 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." 

Not worried about precedent: Sask. Pride Network

Taylor Carlson, executive director of the Saskatchewan Pride Network, said they're proud of how Regina came out to show support for the LGBTQ community, but said they don't have concerns about the defeat of the motion influencing other divisions. 

"There is no concern of this setting a precedent in the province. What was before the board of trustees for the Regina Public School Division was a motion that affirmed current practices," they said. 

The reason for the defeat of the motion, Carlson said, was that trustees didn't have proper "opportunity to discuss the motion at hand in the three or four months prior to it being on the floor."

The motion was originally introduced by a trustee in June.

Carlson said they're optimistic the Regina division will make the right move after having time to discuss the motion further. 

"I am very confident that as trustees with lawful and legal duty of care obligations to their students, to all of their students, that after having those conversations they will come to the right, fair and equitable conclusion." 

Carlson said overall, school divisions across Saskatchewan have been making major strides when it comes to creating a more inclusive and inviting learning environment for LGBTQ students.

"There are LGBTQ2 students in all of our schools. Regardless of whether or not they are out, they're in our schools, and they have every right to see themselves and their experiences reflected back to them in a positive, equitable fashion — just as every other student," they said. 

"There are school divisions all across this province who have stepped up … and they're making those efforts in their communities."

With files from Emily Pasiuk


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