EDMONTON - Today Public Interest Alberta and the University of Alberta’s Dr. Kristopher Wells, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies, released Making the Grade, an analysis of four Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policies that school boards have submitted to Alberta Education.
“Not all policies are created equal,” said Wells, “This geographic sample of policies shows that the measures boards have put in place to protect students range from A+ to F. Policies like the one from the Red Deer Public School Board should serve as a model for others to follow. In contrast, the policy from the St. Albert Catholic School Board includes a call to chastity as a solution. It’s embarrassing and inappropriate in 2016. Many other elements of this policy are also deeply concerning and may contravene government legislation.”
“Boards with inadequate policies must take urgent action to revise them so there is no question about student safety regardless of where a student goes to school in the province,” said Joel French, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “Patchwork policies leave LGBTQ students and teachers at risk of discrimination. If some school boards are unwilling to provide these basic protections for students and staff, the provincial government may need to put those protections into legislation.”
Wells also emphasized that good policies need to be followed by effective implementation. This is especially important for transgender and gender non-conforming students.
“We will be watching closely as the school year starts to ensure school district policies are more than just words on paper. They need to be accompanied by meaningful implementation and professional development,” stated Wells.
Public Interest Alberta called upon Alberta Education to ensure all policies, procedures, or regulations submitted by school boards are made easily accessible to everyone by either posting them on the Government of Alberta website or ensuring that all school boards post them in a prominent place on their own websites.
“Transparency is a hallmark of public accountability. As students are returning to school, they and their parents have a right to know what policies their school boards have put in place to support and protect them,” said French. “Although every school board has submitted a policy to Alberta Education, many of them are either not posted on the school boards’ websites or are buried in places where they are nearly impossible for anyone to find.”
Dr. Wells’ analysis of the policies, including detailed evaluation criteria, can be found at pialberta.org/MakingTheGrade.