'There is an urgency': Schools looking for feedback on inclusivity plan

·2 min read
The guidelines aim to create an environment where every student feels safe expressing themselves. (Submitted by Charlottetown City Hall - image credit)
The guidelines aim to create an environment where every student feels safe expressing themselves. (Submitted by Charlottetown City Hall - image credit)

The P.E.I. Department of Education is looking for feedback on new guidelines to create safer, more inclusive learning environments for students of all gender expressions and sexual orientations.

The draft document for Respecting, Accommodating and Supporting Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sexual Orientation is online now for Islanders to read.

Norbert Carpenter, director of the Public Schools Branch, which helped write the document, would like to see the new guidelines in place as soon as possible.

"There is an urgency. I mean, if one student is feeling, you know, not so great about where they are and we can help with that, then I think it's always urgent," said Carpenter.

"Schools reflect society. And right now in society, there is more education, there's more knowledge and there's more acceptance. And we feel it's incumbent upon us with our partners to make sure every student feels safe to express their gender or to identify with a particular gender."

More consistency needed

Andrea MacPherson of Pride P.E.I. has read the draft guidelines, and is cautiously optimistic about how they could change schools.

A big issue on P.E.I. right now, said MacPherson, is that there is no consistency from school to school.

"You may get the luckiest, best administration in the school and they're completely supportive and it's great, and then you may go one community down the road and it's a nightmare," she said.

"That consistency or the lack of consistency was a real issue."

MacPherson said she has had personal experience of that, when she was volunteering with PEERS Alliance and the Trans Network to make presentations in schools. Some administrations were supportive of teachers requesting presentations, while others were slower to respond.

Carpenter said the Department of Education is also working on changes to the curriculum to include more information on gender diversity and sexual orientation.

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