Calgary public school board moves towards gender-neutral mission statement
CBE passes first reading of motion to change mission statement wording from 'his or her' to 'they and them'
By Lucie Edwardson, CBC News Posted: Dec 06, 2017 6:00 AM MT Last Updated: Dec 06, 2017 6:17 AM MT
Trustees at the Calgary Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday in favour of making their mission statement more inclusive to LGBTQ+ students.
The first reading of a motion — to make the CBE's mission statement gender-neutral by using the words they and them instead of his or her — passed unanimously at the public board meeting.
"By sharing pronouns we are creating a safe space for LGBTQ2+ students, staff and families to share their pronouns and to be respected for who they are and how they wish to be called and acknowledged, not just who we assume them to be," said trustee Julie Hrdlicka who brought the motion forward.
Hrdlicka's motion was praised by fellow colleagues, including trustee Richard Hehr, who said he took a great deal of pride in supporting the motion.
"We are among the leaders in moving towards a better world," he said.
Lindsay Peace, mother to a transgender son and founder of LBGTQ+ advocacy group the Skipping Stone Foundation, said she's glad to see the CBE stepping up in this way.
"It means that they're recognized and they're seen, and so often that's a problem — that they aren't," she said. "To have that be in the mission statement that says we see you, we know you`re there and we support you. That's a pretty big deal for a kid."
Hrdlicka said language matters and the change would make LGBTQ+ students feel more included and safer at school.
"Because if you're in a space where you feel unsafe or unaccepted, then how can you learn?" she said.
David Stevenson, chief superintendent of the CBE, said the words in the board's mission statement is more than just a plaque on the wall.
"It is something that guides our thinking, our planning and our execution of our mandate," he said.
During the debate on the motion, trustees only questioned if there were more ways to make the mission statement inclusive for students.
Trustee Marilyn Dennis suggested they look at removing his and her and replacing it with the word all.
The CBE's current mission statement reads:
"Each student, in keeping with his or her individual abilities and gifts, will complete high school with a foundation of learning necessary to thrive in life, work and continued learning."
Administration has now been tasked with putting together an impact statement for trustees. It will detail the financial impacts of changing all plaques and such, as well as offer research into possible wording changes, including they, them, each and all.
In February, administration will present its findings and the motion will be read for a second time. If passed, the changes would then be made.
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