Administrative Procedure 192

SUPPORT FOR GAY-STRAIGHT ALLIANCES (GSAs)

Background

The Board is committed to establishing and maintaining a welcoming, caring, respectful, safe and inclusive learning and working environment for all members of the school community, regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. This means that each and every person, regardless of race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation, has the relevant learning opportunities, working environment, and appropriate supports needed to feel valued and to be successful in all of our schools, programs, and workplaces.

The Board believes that all sexual and gender minority students, staff, and families have the right to have:

    • their confidentiality protected and respected;
    • self-identification and determination; and
    • their unique identities, families, cultures, and communities included, valued and respected within all aspects of the school environment.

Procedures

  1. The Superintendent and school leaders shall establish, implement, and maintain policies respecting its obligation under the Alberta School Act, Section 45.1 -- to provide each enrolled student and every employed staff member with a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment including the establishment of a school code of conduct for students that addresses bullying behaviours.
     
  2. No student, staff member or member of the community shall be discriminated against as provided for in the Alberta Human Rights Act and/or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
     
  3. System and school leaders shall ensure all discriminatory behaviours and complaints will be taken seriously, documented, and dealt with expeditiously and effectively through consistently applied procedures.
     
  4. The school principal will identify a staff person to serve as a “safe contact” for students and families with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. Principals will inform the entire school community of the location and availability of this safe contact person.
     
  5. The superintendent shall ensure this policy is clearly communicated and made publicly available to all staff, students, and families and annually reviewed by June 30.
     
  6. The following provisions are included in the School Act, and shall be followed throughout the division:
    1. If one or more students attending a school operated by a board request a staff member employed by the board for support to establish a voluntary student organization, or to lead an activity intended to promote a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity and fosters a sense of belonging, the principal of the school shall
      1. immediately grant permission for the establishment of the student organization or the holding of the activity at the school, and
      2. subject to subsection (4), within a reasonable time from the date that the principal receives the request designate a staff member to serve as the staff liaison to facilitate the establishment, and the ongoing operation, of the student organization or to assist in organizing the activity.
    2. The students may select a respectful and inclusive name for the organization or activity, including the name “gay-straight alliance” or “queer-straight alliance”, after consulting with the principal.
      1. For greater certainty, the principal shall not prohibit or discourage students from choosing a name that includes “gay-straight alliance” or “queer-straight alliance”.
    3. The principal shall immediately inform the board and the Minister if no staff member is available to serve as a staff liaison referred to in subsection (1), and if so informed, the Minister shall appoint a responsible adult to work with the requesting students in organizing the activity or to facilitate the establishment, and the ongoing operation, of the student organization at the school.
    4. The principal is responsible for ensuring that notification, if any, respecting a voluntary student organization or an activity referred to in subsection (1) is limited to the fact of the establishment of the organization or the holding of the activity, and (2) is otherwise consistent with the usual practices relating to notifications of other student organizations and activities
       
  7. Dress Codes
    1. School leaders shall ensure that all students have the right to dress and express their identity in a manner consistent with their gender identity or gender expression in accordance with school guidelines (ie. modesty and profanity limitations).
       
  8. Washroom and Change Room Accessibility
    1. School leaders shall provide safe access to a washroom and/or change room for use by any student who desires increased privacy.
    2. Where possible, readily accessible universal or gender-inclusive washrooms shall be made available at each school and worksite.
       
  9. Overnight and Out of School Field Trips
    1. When planning activities that involve the need for overnight or housing accommodations, school staff shall ensure these issues are addressed on a case-by-case basis. There is no “one way” in which students are accommodated.
      1. Many factors are to be carefully considered including the needs and wishes of students and their parents/guardians, the facilities where students will be sleeping, the beds in which students would be sleeping, and the adult supervision to be provided.
    2. School staff will make every reasonable effort to provide accommodations that are inclusive, respectful, and acceptable to the student and that do not impose any additional expense or burden for the student or their family. The dignity, privacy and confidentiality of students will be maintained at all times.
       
  10. Resolving Conflict
    1. Disputes will be resolved in a manner that involves the student and an adult to advocate for them (teacher, parent/guardian, consultant, service provider) in the decision-making process, to maximize inclusiveness and reflect the best interests of the student.
       
  11. Official Records and Student Information
    1. Maintain student records in a way that respects students’ privacy and confidentiality and complies with Alberta’s privacy legislation.
    2. Students will be informed of any limitations regarding their chosen name and gender identity or gender expression in relation to official school records that may require legal name and designation.
       
  12. Confidentiality and Privacy
    1. Ensure, where possible, a student’s right to discuss and express their gender identity and/or gender expression openly and to decide when, with whom, and how much private information to share.
    2. Westwind School Division #74 is a public body bound by the provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Any disclosure of personal information will be in accordance with this Act.
       

Reference

Section 33,52,53,196,197,222 Education Act

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act

Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FOIPP)

Alberta Human Rights’ Act (AHRA)

Alberta Teachers’ Association: Code of Professional Conduct & Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities

 

Approved: August 21, 2018