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Motion and Speaking Notes on Inclusive Communities: Sept. 15, 2015

September 18, 2015

There were 3 motions that were being brought forward at the ECSD Public Board meeting on Tuesday, September 15, 2015.  The first motion was to make first reading of a Board policy on Inclusive Communities which would make explicit who we include in our school communities.  The second motion was first reading on a stand alone policy on Gender Identity and Expression and the third motion requested our administration to develop regulations touching on a variety of issues related to including transgender students in our school district.  In this blog post I have published my speaking notes for the motion on Inclusive Communities.  To read this motion and the policy go to Agenda and Notes Sept. 15, 2015 ECSD Public Board meeting pages 24-25.

Motion:  to have first reading of Governance Policy #14 Commitment to Inclusive Communities in Edmonton Catholic Schools

I will be supporting this motion because I see it as an update of our Inclusive Communities Administrative Policy which is needed.  The original Inclusive Communities Administrative Policy, had it been followed, would have allowed our little Grade 2 transgender girl to use the washroom as she requested and we wouldn’t be sitting here today.  It became obvious to our ad hoc committee that we needed to provide a Board Policy on Inclusive Communities and spell out in detail who is welcome and included in our schools and who should not be discriminated against.  The original Administrative Policy states:  “An inclusive community is one in which each person is welcomed, accepted and supported as a child of God, therefore any discrimination is unacceptable and will be addressed.” Then we went on to discriminate against a transgender girl telling her where she could or could not go to the bathroom.  So I welcome an update of this Inclusive Communities Policies so that our Board and staff have more details of whom we are referring to and I welcome it as a Board Policy.

The original Administrative Policy on Inclusive Communities stated that “All efforts to support the inclusive, safe and caring learning and working communities within our District must be in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church”.  In this updated version we state clearly which teachings we are talking about by making reference to no. 1930 and 1931 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which state:

1930 Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from their dignity as a creature.

1931 Respect for the human person proceeds by way of respect for the principle that “everyone should look upon their neighbour (without exception) as ‘another self’, above all bearing in mind their life and the means necessary for living it with dignity.

I would like to make a friendly amendment that we include a footnote for a) referring the reader to the bottom of the page where section 1930 is quoted from the Catechism and a footnote for b) doing the same for section 1931.

I will also be voting for this policy because it speaks of the importance of educating our students, staff and families to appreciate diversity.  Last night I attended a screening of the film “For Want of a Home” which described the plight of homeless transgender youth.  There is such a need for education of our parents, students and staff on this issue because lack of understanding is leading to the abuse, abandonment, bullying, and ultimately suicide of our transgender youth.

This Policy is a general policy which spells out specifically the diverse population of students and families we serve.  It is needed because it seems when policies are too general, it gives license to some people to exclude certain categories of students.  This policy in no way replaces the need for a stand-alone policy on Gender Identity and Expression.

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