VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Tensions are running high as we approach next month’s civic election, with some candidates sharing controversial views surrounding issues like refugees and LGBTQ supports in schools.
SOGI 1 2 3 aims to promote inclusivity, regardless of a student’s biological sex and sexual orientation.
BC Teachers’ Federation president Glen Hansman says there is no place for hateful ideologies in public education.
“School trustees are responsible for not just the safety and well-being of the students in their care. They also have the responsibility to proactively take steps to make sure that schools are inclusive, not just for LGBTQ students, but for students who come from different cultural backgrounds, including students are refugees or new immigrants.”
Hansman has taken to Twitter, calling it “abhorrent” to see a candidate “spreading hatred against immigrants and refugees.”
“It is extremely problematic to have somebody who is running as a school trustee continuing to spread hate about LGBTQ people — especially trans people — and also be out there, making vile comments about refugees and immigrants, as a group.”
He is confident the majority of voters “are going to say no to this.”
“There’s still racism and misogyny that exists in our school system”
The public education system in B.C. is non-sectarian.
“We open our doors in public schools to families and students from all walks of life,” says Hansman. He adds “things are not great” for LGBTQ students in B.C. schools.
“Things are getting a lot better, but we have a long way to go to make sure that all schools are safe and inclusive — that youth who are transitioning feel safe to do so, that their use of pronoun is respected, that they have access to changing rooms and washrooms and other safe spaces in schools.”
Hansman notes it still isn’t easy for a gay or lesbian student to come out. “And like it or not, there’s still racism and misogyny that exists in our school system.”
“Anyone who is seeking to be a school trustee has to commit to eradicating those things, not spreading hate and not spreading bigotry.”
He says the election of trustees who are against who some students are can add to the “climate of fear” in schools. “Students see the news… They might be wondering, ‘Is it going to be safe for me to come out in school?'”
Hansman adds when entering high school, students need to feel accepted and supported by their peers, teachers, and school boards.
“Things can be pretty frightening for a high school student. If they’re already feeling worried or unsure about whether it’s going to be safe for them at school, to have one of the adults — who is supposed to be looking out for them — making heinous comments, that might drive them back into the closet or make them doubt themselves in a way that’s going to be really negative for their mental health and well-being.”