Wolf Creek board extending bullying, harassment rules

Another Central Alberta school board is looking at creating rules so staff and students know that discrimination against gays and lesbians will not be tolerated. Wolf Creek Public Schools recently announced it was creating procedures around sexual orientation and gender identity so that those who are lesbian, gay, transgendered and the like will be treated with dignity and respect. It’s an extension of creating rules around bullying and harassment.

Another Central Alberta school board is looking at creating rules so staff and students know that discrimination against gays and lesbians will not be tolerated.

Wolf Creek Public Schools recently announced it was creating procedures around sexual orientation and gender identity so that those who are lesbian, gay, transgendered and the like will be treated with dignity and respect. It’s an extension of creating rules around bullying and harassment.

Nancy McClure, chair of Wild Rose Public School Division board, said that Wolf Creek will likely become the fourth district in the province to develop such procedures and Wild Rose would become the fifth.

It will probably come up at a May board meeting, with hopes that a policy would be developed and approved by September.

“In the perfect world we would not need a stand-alone policy or procedure,” said McClure.

She said she’s spoken with staff who feel ashamed of how they may have treated students years ago, and now they get why rules on sexual orientation are so important.

“As well, we need something in place that’s going to support staff — that we are recognizing the equality of opportunity, dignity and respect for everyone.”

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools doesn’t have a specific policy or procedures concerning sexual orientation or gender identity. It has administrative procedures focusing on making all students feel welcome and safe.

“Our school board has strong belief in an inclusive school model, one that doesn’t single out particular groups,” said Catholic superintendent Paul Mason. “All students, no matter what group they may belong to, are equally respected.”

Red Deer Public Schools spokesman Bruce Buruma said they haven’t pursued a specific policy. However when the Alberta School Boards Association was dealing with the issue, Red Deer was in favour of it, recognizing the need for potential policy directions, said Buruma.

“So it is something under consideration — we support it in principle,” said Buruma.

Chinook’s Edge School Division associate superintendent Wanda Christensen said they don’t have a stand-alone policy either and like Red Deer Catholic, they have “safe and caring programs” and promote tolerance of diversity in schools.

“We’re very inclusive in our approach in making sure our students are safe,” said Christensen.

The school board hasn’t directed them to create a stand-alone policy for sexual orientation.

They gather information with schools and teachers and so far that need hasn’t been shown, she added.

Clearview Public Schools chairman Ken Checkel said the board hasn’t looked at developing such a policy.

“We have heard of other divisions getting involved in this, but it’s something we haven’t got to yet,” said Checkel.

The division has standard policies around bullying, and safe and caring schools.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com