Red Deer Public Schools has updated its Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Policy. (File photo by BLACK PRESS)

Red Deer Public Schools has updated its Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Policy. (File photo by BLACK PRESS)

Red Deer Public Schools officially endorses Pride Week

Pride Week to be celebrated in June

Red Deer Public Schools reversed its controversial Pride Week decision and is now officially recognizing a week in June as Pride Week.

In February 2021, the board of trustees rejected a district Pride Week in favour of a Diversity Week to the disappointment of the LGBTQ community.

Trustee Dianne Macaulay, who put forward the Pride Week motion last year, said she was thrilled that the board now officially endorses Pride Week.

“I am ecstatic. I am so proud of our district moving forward on our LGBTQ+ initiatives and showing that we are a diverse-opportunity board,” Macaulay said.

The issue of Pride Week was discussed by the board last week when trustees reviewed and updated the jurisdiction’s Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Policy.

Prior to the update, the policy did allow schools to have a Pride Week or days. But now as a division, Red Deer Public supports the celebration of Pride Week and related activities, thereby providing division-wide opportunity.

Macaulay said there was a lot of helpful discussion about the policy.

“It was really good. It was open. It was very honest and it made me walk away a lot happier than it did last February.”

Related:

Defeat of Pride Week motion at Red Deer Public Schools catches heat

Earlier this year the board directed the superintendent to review the policy, which included community consultation.

Board chair Nicole Buchanan said when the trustees approved the original policy in 2015, it was recognized as an exemplary policy that informed and guided other school jurisdictions across Alberta.

“In updating the policy, we consulted with our community, including the LGBTQ community and the changes are responsive and reflect the needs of our community. We have gained insights since the initial development of our policy, and it was time to update it,” said Buchanan in a statement.

Also new to the policy is the creation of a Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression Advisory Committee, made up of staff, students, administrators, parents, and community members to provide strategic input, monitor, and support the implementation of the policy.

Related:

Central Albertans protest Red Deer Public Schools’ Pride Week decision

Red Deer Public Schools says the purpose of the policy is to ensure the school board provides an environment for all members of the school community to work and learn, free from fear, discrimination, and harassment, while also promoting proactive strategies and establishing guidelines to ensure that sexual and gender minority students, employees and families are welcomed and included in all aspects of school life, and are treated with respect and dignity.

“The foundation of public school education is that we welcome all students. We are focused on ensuring every student has a sense of belonging and sees themselves represented in each of our schools,” Buchanan said.

“Like our community, our schools are diverse. We work diligently to meet the needs of every one of our students. This diversity includes their ethnicity, cultural backgrounds, socio-economic status, language, faith, abilities, disabilities, sexual orientation and gender identity as well as other areas.”



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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