Last week, Education Minister David Eggen released a series of new guidelines to help school boards across the province set mandatory policies supporting gender diversity. Officials at the Lethbridge Public School Board report the policy creation process is already well under way.
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“I think what we are on board with is taking a serious look at what all the recommendations are speaking too,” said Cheryl Gilmore, the superintendent for Lethbridge School Board 51. “We need to make sure we get feedback from all of our stakeholder groups and talking about some of the recommendations that fit our school and things we can take a look at.”
The 21-page document suggests male students who self-identify as female would be allowed to use the girls washrooms, change rooms, or try out for all-girls competitive sports teams and clubs, but School Board 51 says there is some confusion surrounding the policy and all of the recommendations don’t have to be implemented.
“I think some members of the public are thinking all jurisdictions have received a document which has required them to address immediately bathrooms and change rooms,” explained Gilmore.
“It’s confusing for the public. The document is not making any requirements it’s only making recommendations for us to think about.”
The Lethbridge-based Holy Spirit Regional division will be offering its students the same protections, despite vocal condemnations from Catholic bishop Fred Henry in Calgary.
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“We are looking at the guidelines and to see how they compare and align with the current framework we have. Certainly there are some things that may be concerning for parents, but by and large some of the things in the guidelines we are already doing,” added Chris Smeaton, the superintendent for Holy Spirit school in Lethbridge.
“We are creating an inclusive and caring community.”
The new policies will also apply in local faith-based schools like Immanuel Christian and Calvin Christian, and in Muslim schools in Calgary which have come under the administration of Lethbridge-based Palliser Regional schools.