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Setting the Record Straight

October 2, 2015

Yesterday I sent an email to my supporters (56 to be exact who sent me supportive emails in May).  I wanted to thank them for their support and update them on what was happening in regards to the development of an ECSD transgender policy.  I told them that a very good policy based upon Edmonton Public School Board’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policy would come forward at the October 13th public board meeting and encouraged them to please register to speak to this policy.  So I sent out a copy of the policy as well as the policy I attempted to bring forward to the Sept. 15th public board meeting.  I wanted my supporters to see that our Board has been working very hard on developing a policy that would protect our transgender students.

I also sent out a copy of the policy that was put together by the Council of Catholic Superintendents of Alberta.  The trustees were sent a letter by the Archbishop telling us that we were to “wait for and follow” the “protocol” being prepared by the superintendents.  I fully assumed that if the Archbishop wanted us to follow this protocol/policy (whatever you want to call it) then it was a public document since there is no way for our Board to adopt a policy on transgender students without it going to a public board meeting for three readings.  As well, when the “protocol” finally did come through on the morning of our raucous public board meeting Sept. 15th, it did not say that it was confidential.  Why would it be confidential if it was being touted by the Archbishop as the policy we were being asked to follow–a policy that needed to go to a public board meeting for three readings?  So I would disagree with Chair Engel who stated that I “leaked” a confidential document– I did nothing of the sort.  In fact, I sent the document to Braeden from Metro News on Sept. 20, 2015 again believing that it was not a confidential document and he did a story on it.  I believe that what is happening here is that some people are embarrassed about the contents of the superintendents’ policy.  Well, this is the policy that is now being suggested is only a guideline for superintendents.  Now that the public sees it, perhaps they need to ask if they really want to see the superintendents use it as a guideline.  I encourage you to contact ECSD trustees and the Minister of Education to express your opinion on this issue.

Regardless, all I was trying to do in my email to supporters, was give them a report on what the Board was doing to support transgender students and line up speakers for the October 13th meeting.  I am fully in favour of the policy we are bringing forward which is based almost completely upon Edmonton Public School Board’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policy.  The policy will be posted on the Edmonton Catholic website prior to the October 13th.

This policy is not much different from the one our ad hoc committee brought forward on Sept. 15th because it too was based upon EPSB’s policy.  The original policy was deferred at the Sept. 15th meeting because of a lack of consultation with the public.  I beg to differ — we consulted a wide variety of people including a psychiatrist specializing in gender identity issues, a transgender Catholic woman, a parent of a transgender child, parent council chairs, retired teachers, and a representative of Safe and Caring Communities.  We did try to consult with the archbishop but he was unavailable and did not offer any future dates for meeting.

We are now bringing forward another similar policy — without any public consultation as the Board has decided that these consultations will take place after it is brought forward for first and possibly second reading at the October 13th meeting. My question remains:  why could the original policy not have been accepted for first and second reading on September 15th and have further public consultations after, just as we are proposing to do with this new policy?

I also want to set the record straight in regards to whether we were coerced or not to follow the Archbishop’s policy.  We were sent a letter by His Grace asking us to “wait for and follow’ the superintendents’ policy.  That is why there was so much rancor at our Sept. 15th meeting — our board was divided over whether we should follow his policy or our own. After meeting with the Minister of Education we have decided to go forward with a very good policy which I believe will protect our transgender students.  I am looking forward to the October 13th meeting and hope that as many electors as possible can come out to support this good policy.  If you wish to speak to it, you must contact ECSD Board Secretary Klotz no later than Friday, October 9th, 4:00 pm. Call 780-441-6000.

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2 Comments
  1. Nicola DiNicola permalink

    Patricia, I continue to follow your difficulty but important political journey to advocate for our children and carry out the responsibilities of your elected position. I applaud your efforts and admire your forthright explanation of the progression of events that have unfolded over the past months. I am sickened and appalled by the comments by your colleague, Larry Kowalcyzk about transgender children which show profound ignorance of the topic. I am also very upset at the the “guidelines” from the archbishop which are nothing but a strong statement of damaging judgmental opinion and intolerance which serve to alienate me further from the Catholic church. At the same time I am angered because I know it is NOT representative of the opinions of the majority of Catholics in the school district.

    I encourage ECSD policy makers to look to the post secondary level for some guidance. I work at the University of Alberta where great progress has been made in creating safe spaces for all students and an inclusive, tolerant environment for the LGBTQ community. Creating a tolerant, inclusive environment in our elementary and secondary schools prepares students for a post-secondary education just as surely as teaching them their academic subjects.

    Do not be discouraged and please know that you are heartily supported in your work.

    God bless you!

    • Thanks so much Nicola for your support! It’s very much appreciated. I think that the new policy that the trustees are bringing forward which are based upon EPSB’s will serve our transgender students well. It isn’t much What we have to really be careful of though, are the regulations. That’s where the rubber meets the road and we say how we are going to enact the policy. So stay tuned!

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