A Red Deer Public School division parent is not happy with the board’s recent decision to hold a Diversity Week instead of a Pride Week.
In February, a motion by a trustee to establish a Pride Week was defeated 2-4 – a Diversity Week motion passed 4-2. This was met with criticism from the LGBTQ community, including a week of silent protests held outside of the school division’s office.
Jaelene Tweedle, former chair of the City Wide School Council, attended a council’s meeting March 9 where the decision was discussed.
“We had probably four or five parents at the meeting that night who spoke towards it. It wasn’t something that was planned for discussion, it was more so something that came up,” Tweedle said Friday.
“We expressed some concern with the decision the board had come to saying no to Pride Week and also questioning whether they would revisit it and take more input from people. There weren’t any parents from that meeting that spoke up in the opposite direction and saying they were glad by the decision they made.”
Last Wednesday, following four private presentations from individuals at a school board meeting, the board reaffirmed its commitment to a Diversity Week.
The initial Pride Week motion “was an amazing motion that was put forth and I was disappointed in them voting it down. But I was more disappointed in how things were handled afterwards,” said Tweedle, who is the mother of two students within Red Deer Public Schools.
“I think there was a big opportunity, even if the board in the end decided to go in the direction they had, where they could have really shown they were valuing the public’s input and they were truly listening.”
At the Wednesday school board meeting, all trustees supported a motion to review the board’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policy.
“Throughout all deliberations on these motions, trustees, both individually and collectively showed genuine care, understanding and full support for LGBTQ+ students, staff and community,” the board said in a statement March 10.
“The board of trustees fully expects that our schools are safe and respected places for all students and staff. We recognize the true challenges faced by the LBGTQ+ community and that Red Deer Public must continue to prioritize this work.”
A recent Advocate online poll asked readers whether the school division should reconsider its recent motion and declare Pride Week. The 1,908 people who voted on the poll were nearly split – 51.31 per cent said no and 48.69 per cent said yes.