Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students will be included with other groups reflected in anti-bullying policies in school districts and independent schools throughout the province.
Education Minister Mike Bernier announced Thursday that explicit references to sexual orientation and gender identity are being added to the policies that school districts and independent schools are required to have in place.
The changes will bring district school policies in line with the July 2016 amendments to the B.C. Human Rights Code that included gender identity and expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination.
Bernier noted that many districts and independent schools already include sexual orientation and gender identity in their anti-bullying policies, and today’s announcement extends this to all of them.
All public school boards are required to have codes of conduct in their schools to address bullying by articulating the prohibited grounds of discrimination as set out in the British Columbia Human Rights Code, acceptable and unacceptable behaviours and consequences.
Independent schools are required to have policies promoting safety, respect and acceptance of all students; anti-bullying and harassment policies; and educational programs addressing these issues.
Districts and schools have until the end of this year to update their anti-bullying policies.
In addition, the ARC Foundation, based in B.C., is funding a new Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Education advisor position to support school districts and independent schools develop their policies and voluntary anti-bullying programs to be inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.
ARC Foundation’s current focus is the SOGI Education Initiative, which aims to facilitate collaboration, programming and funding to ensure every school in British Columbia provides a safe and inclusive environment for every child.