A group assigned to review anti-homophobia policies for Surrey schools will hold its first meeting tonight (July 12).
The working group was struck following a request to the board of education last month that the Surrey School District establish a standalone anti-homophobia policy.
Proponents say a targeted policy is necessary because of the prevalence of bullying based on sexual orientation and the fact it’s been linked to increased teen suicide rates.
Presenters at the June 21 public school board meeting, including two Surrey high school students, pointed to the homophobic slurs and behaviour that pervades schools, and the damage it causes students and staff.
The working group will consist of parents, students, teachers and other school district staff and will initially be led by Supt. Mike McKay. There are no trustees in the group.
The board of education voted at a meeting June 21 to convene the group in order to review policy in light the issues brought forward by speakers at the meeting.
The group’s exact mandate has yet to be determined, but it’s expected it will eventually present its findings to the board for trustees to consider.
There are 18 B.C. school districts that have established LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, questioning) policies and regulations and several others that are considering them.
Most are aimed at instigating systemic change through staff development and education, and measures to improve the understanding of LGBTQ people and their positive contributions to society.
Students in Delta requested a similar policy from trustees in that district in April, but have yet to receive a formal response.
Surrey currently has blanket anti-discrimination regulations that include anti-homophobic language.