"All people are not heterosexual. Heterosexuality is not superior and is not the norm by which all other sexual orientation and gender identities are measured." --Burnaby, B.C. Schools Draft Policy #5.45

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Burnaby, B.C. Schools' Sexual Minority Policy

Burnaby, B.C. schools put together a new draft policy, called Policy #5.45, to make sure all sexual minorities feel safe and welcome in Burnaby schools.  The policy made a splash in the news after it aroused both the enthusiasm and support of some parents and the concern and opposition of others.  The policy has not been adopted yet.

The two most interesting, specific, and practical parts of the policy (to me) are:

1. Requiring schools to include, in student conduct codes, prohibitions on student use of denigrating language.  I assume it's already unthinkable to make prejudiced comments about other categories of people.  It was in my US high school in the 1980s, but comments demeaning sexual minorities were an ordinary part of daily speech.  My high school's current conduct code includes "sexual orientation".  It certainly didn't include sexual orientation when I attended.    

2. Appointing a staff person to be a safe contact for sexual minority students and making this known to the students.  The University of Winnipeg study showed that 1 in 4 sexual minority students has no safe person to talk to in their lives, inside or outside of school.  I didn't either, when I was in high school.  The NCTE's statistics on transgender life in education in the States were even more appalling.
My favorite part, from the definitions section:

"Heterosexism refers to the mistaken assumption that all people are heterosexual and that heterosexuality is superior and the norm by which all other sexual orientation and gender identities are measured."

I liked this sentence so much I put it at the top of this blog.        

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