CALGARY, AB (September 16, 2015): Dr. David Swann welcomed comments today by Education Minister David Eggen calling on the Edmonton Catholic School Board to produce an inclusivity policy to protect Transgender students.
“I am grateful that the minister has gone on record on this important issue of ensuring respectful and inclusive schools,” says Swann. “The school board has a duty under law to provide an inclusive and safe environment for these students, regardless of gender identity or gender expression.”
Last night the trustees of the Edmonton Catholic School Board deferred a policy on inclusivity arising out of a request by a transgender elementary student to use the girls’ washroom. The deferral followed a long and often tense discussion surrounding the needs of transgender students and the nature of discrimination.
Under section 45.1(1) of the School Act boards have a “responsibility to ensure that each student … is provided with a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity”.
Swann added that this incident also highlights the need to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Alberta Human Rights Act.
“At last night’s board meeting there was a drawn out discussion about whether what this young girl had gone through even constituted discrimination,” noted Swann. “Clearly it did.
“What is needed is an explicit prohibition on discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. I hope the government will act on that as well.”