A number of constituents have asked me to explain my vote September 12th concerning the notice of motion for the Board to reaffirm the existing Policy on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

Many in the community mistakenly thought the motion had to do with creating a new policy. Many also expressed concern that with the waiver of notice of motion meant there would be no chance for input as the decision would be reached in the same meeting of September 12th.

First off, I support GSAs and protecting kids privacy. That is EPSB current policy and yesterday’s vote does not change that at all.

I did not vote against GSAs.  Allow me to explain.

The motion yesterday was simply to affirm our existing policy, which I support and will say so when the motion gets discussed at the next meeting.

What I voted against was a request to waive notice of motion, which would have short-circuited our normal process to introduce a motion one meeting, gather info then discuss at the next.  The reason for my vote to follow normal process was that trustees heard from literally hundreds (about 400 at last estimate) of people, on either side of what they perceived was creating a new policy.  I heard directly from constituents that were not part of an organized lobby, who merely raised questions and concerns that deserve to be heard. Many opposed to what they perceived as the District withholding information from parents were concerned about not being heard, and having a procedural “trick” of waiving notice to not hear them.  I believe it important as a District to honour all input, even those we disagree with.  In this case, it gives the District time to share with the community:

– the policy has been in place since 2011

– it follows the law

– we have had no issues with it

– it protects students privacy, but also continues to require parental notification and approval for any offsite activity.

I made what is called a Request for Information so that the District will develop such a report and we can reassure folks that the current policy is the right policy and works well.

As a parent I believe that students have the right to determine when they inform their parents on this one specific issue. Just as with a physician, personal privacy for safety reasons prevails.  More importantly, this is in fact the law that the District must follow.  The District’s legal counsel explained that on this point FOIP trumps other legislation, including the Family Law Act.

Parents should not be concerned that the Board can withhold any and all information, the Policy in question is very specific to applying to the GSA situation.

The lack of solid information raises people’s fears, which was the whole point in voting yesterday to follow our regular process and to request a report to provide this information.

The Board’s job should be to help educate and bring people together.

I would be happy to answer your questions.

Ken