Protecting transgender youth

Protecting transgender youth in Catholic schools - from Social Equity Subcommittee member Joanne Picard

My name is Joanne Picard and I am a grade 12 student in Edmonton Catholic Schools. I am currently on my second year of being a member of the City of Edmonton Youth Council. This year, I am also on the newly created Social Equity subcommittee.

As you may have heard the Edmonton Catholic School District is in the process of creating a specific policy to hopefully ensure the inclusivity and safety of staff, students and families who identify as transgender or a part of the LGBTQ community.

As a youth, I think it is important that we have a voice in our education especially when it comes to matters of policy such as this. We are directly impacted by policies made by the Board of Trustees. Not only are we expected to follow these policies, but they determine how our schools are run and the ways in which our teachers are expected to teach.

If you, like me, were not one of the few students invited from each school to attend the community consultation gathering, there are still some things you can do to make sure your voice as a student is heard and considered. Hopefully you were able to voice some of your opinions online during the ECSD online consultation. That information has now been published in a report that was presented to Superintendent Joan Carr and the Board of Trustees on November 24th and 25th.

This report will be publicly addressed at a special meeting held by the Board on Dec 1st at 4pm. In addition, they will have a second reading of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policy. This meeting is open to the public, and I would encourage all youth to attend. Not only will you be present to hear the vote that directly affects you as a student, but the greater the number of youth actively listening, the more the board will realize youth should be involved.

A letter has been written to ECSD superintendent Joan Carr by some students proposing changes to this policy as well as reiterating the importance of the engagement of youth. Here is the link to the online petition. It is open to the public if you agree to the recommendations and wish to sign and or share on social media.

Lastly, I would encourage any youth who feel they have insight or suggestions to email the Board of Trustees directly.  As key stakeholders in our education, we have the right to address our concerns and share strategies and suggestions we might have.

Your fellow ally,

Joanne Picard