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Livingstone Range School Board begins discussion on LGBTQ policy

The provincial government has mandated all Alberta school boards must have a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer or Questioning policy in place by March 31 to reflect the safety and well-being of these students.
Livingstone Range School Board took the first step in that process Feb. 9.
They gave first reading to a policy to add a paragraph to the division’s existing welcoming, caring, respectful, and safe learning environment policy, that reads, in part, the board expects all trustees, staff and students will adhere to Procedure XX (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity).
However, that procedure has not yet been written, making some trustees uneasy about approving something they have not seen.
Trustee John McKee said it was difficult to adhere to Policy XX.
“I have no idea what XX means,” McKee said. “If I have no idea what the procedure is, I am not overly in agreement to accepting it.”
Superintendent Dave Driscoll said if the policy passes first reading administration will draft the procedure.
The procedure committee will develop it, send it to principals who will share it with parents and school councils, then send it back to the procedures committee.
Driscoll also emphasized there is no legislation on washrooms or change rooms, as has been suggested in the mainstream media.
Trustee Shannon Scherger agreed with McKee.
“We’re being asked to adhere to a procedure nobody has seen,” Scherger said.
Trustee Lori Hodges said the challenge is the March 31 deadline and asked if the board can wait to see a draft policy first.
Driscoll said first reading of the policy is not final.
Scherger suggested not adding anything to their policy because it already covers Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer or Questioning students.
Driscoll said that will not meet the mandate of the government or the School Act.
Chairman Brad Toone has learned there is no room to not make any changes.
“They made it clear to add this piece to existing policy even if we had stuff,” Toone said.
Scherger and Hodges suggested striking a reference to Policy XX because it does not yet exist.
Driscoll said the board can still approve the procedure at second reading.
“You have the ability to change this on second reading and third reading,” Driscoll said.
Driscoll explained the challenge is administration cannot write procedure without policy telling them to, so unless the board approved the policy, administration cannot write the procedure.
Driscoll said it is unfortunate, but the way the process is set up.
If the policy is passed, Driscoll could have a procedure drafted by week’s end.
“After listening to Dave, we have a good process in place,” Hodges later said.
Driscoll emphasized the procedure will be there to make sure schools are open to everyone.
“Our guidelines have been handling these situations well,” he said of schools accommodating many different needs over many different years.