Diversity report details 15 recommendations for Regina Public Schools
REGINA -- A committee has made several recommendations to encourage and support diversity in Regina Public Schools.
The Special Committee on Diversity presented its final report at a meeting on Tuesday evening.
The committee was created after school board trustees voted down a motion about Pride celebrations in Regina schools in the Fall.
Its final report recommends 15 actions for the school board to take to support diversity.
“We need to acknowledge and recognize and affirm gender and sexual diversity as universal human rights. But more than that, that we serve a very diverse group of students, whether it is Canadians or students with a disability,” said Jason Coleman, the Superintendent of Student Achievement with Regina Public Schools.
As for Pride celebrations, Coleman said the school division is behind it.
“As a school community and as a division we are endorsing and want to do that. We have protocols and guidelines around that.”
Jacq Brasseur, the Executive director of the UR Pride Centre was on the committee. Brasseur says, had the original motion passed, the group may not have been formed to look at the deeper issues.
“We were able to really work with a group of folks who are committed to safer schools and inclusive communities, to talk about some of the meatier things that really impact LGBTQ kids,” Brasseur said.
Eric Bell with Queen City for All says he agrees with everything in the report, but thinks LGBTQ history should be a mandatory teaching in all public schools.
“It’s a good thing that it was done, but there is still a lot that I think needs to be done in order to repair the damage the school board did and the hurt that they caused,” Bell said.
Both Bell and Brasseur say the report should just be the beginning of the work being done to improve inclusivity.
“I really encourage community, particularly students themselves, to be reaching out to their school division, and saying ‘this works for me, or you know what, this doesn’t work for me and there was somethings in this report that are missing,” Brasseur said.
The committee was made up of nine people of multiple gender identities, sexualities and faith backgrounds. Its recommendations are split into five categories.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT AND RECOGNITION
The committee recommended the Regina Board of Education issue a public statement that is shared with staff and students, identifying sexual diversity as a universal human right.
The Director of Education is encouraged to communicate “specific direction” to staff and students about flags and Pride Week celebrations.
POLICIES AND ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES
Regina Board of Education policies and Regina Public School Division administrative procedures are to be updated.
These policies and procedures should observe and entrench the spirit and language of binding bodies, such as Article 26 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
These include the prohibition of discrimination due to race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability and conviction for an offence where a pardon has been granted, or a record suspension has been ordered.
The report also recommends the school board adopts the use of non-gendered language.
Policies are to be adapted to acknowledge that all Regina Public Schools buildings are on Treaty Four land, and show commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. Treaty Four flags are to be displayed, in places of “visibility and prominence,” inside all schools and the division office.
The Treaty Four land recognition should be reviewed to potentially include recognition of the diversity of Regina Public Schools populations.
Specific updates are suggested to Administrative Procedures 109, 110, 112, 125, 135, 137, 138, 206, 220, 350, 381, 405, and 406 with regard to Gender and Sexual Diversity, along with an addition of a Gender and Sexual Diversity Administrative Procedure.
CREATION OF COMMITTEES
A Diversity Steering Committee will be created. It will initially be made up of members of the Special Committee. It will oversee other diversity-based committees.
This committee will later be comprised of representative members of the LGBTQ community, Indigenous peoples, new Canadians, the multicultural community, inclusive/disability community and the faith-based community.
The Diversity Steering Committee will review and give other recommendations to the board of education related to shared values in schools.
Multicultural Advisory and Gender and Sexual Diversity Advisory Committees will also be created.
Regina Public Schools stakeholders will be surveyed regarding gender and sexual diversity. The survey will be created, delivered and reported by the Diversity Advisory/Steering Committee.
An application has been created to raise flags for special events. All applications will be assessed by division administration.
Principals will receive protocols to follow for flag raisings.
Administrative Procedure 138 will be updated to reflect the Government of Canada Dignity of the Flag Protocol.
Information about Division-endorsed events will be shared, promoted and supported. Division-endorsed events include, but are not limited to: Orange Shirt Day, Treaty Four Celebrations, Day of Pink, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Pride Week and Day, and National Indigenous Peoples Day.
Students, staff and community members are encouraged to participate in these events.
Principals will also receive the new Guidelines for Division-Endorsed school events.