On the morning of November 26th 2019, our Vice-Chair sent a letter to the Regina Public School Board (RPSB) on behalf of our Board of Directors. We explained that we would share our letter publicly on November 29th, with any response that was offered to us from the RPSB.
Chair of RPSB, Katherine Gagne responded to our letter in an email on November 27th 2019. Since this time, we have not received any formal response.
Our letter, which you can also download here, can be read below: (The RPSB’s response will be below as well.)
Tuesday, November 26th 2019
To Regina Public School Board Trustees:
Dr. Jane Ekong, Subdivision 1
Aleana Young, Subdivision 2
Adam Hicks, Subdivision 3
Cindy Anderson, Subdivision 4
Tanya Foster, Subdivision 5
Katherine Gagne, Subdivision 6
Jay Kasperski, Subdivision 7
RE: Affirming Regina Public Schools’ Rights to Celebrate Pride & Prioritize 2SLGBTQ+ Inclusion
As you all know, on October 15th 2019, the Regina Public School Board (RPSB) debated the motion brought forward by Trustee Young to ensure that Regina Public Schools recognized and supported Pride celebrations and flag raisings every June. Many of our board members and staff attended this meeting, and were saddened and disappointed by the outcome of this vote.
From our understanding of this meeting, the concerns raised by some trustees who voted against this motion included:
- That the motion presented by Trustee Young, as worded, would force schools to participate in Pride celebrations and raise the rainbow flag every June; and
- That the motion lacked extensive and/or clear information about the details, procedures and processes surrounding this theme.
Although we are saddened by the outcome, we can respect these concerns and believe all Trustees’ commitment to RPSB’s shared values: I belong, I respect, I am responsible and I want to know. As an organization that has acted as an important voice in Regina on 2SLGBTQ+ (Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, etc.) and allied inclusion since 1996, we wanted to put forward a number of calls to action to the elected representatives of RPSB to continue upholding these shared values in relation to ensuring the safety of 2SLGBTQ+ children, staff and families at RPSB.
We call for:
- The development of a policy directive that clearly affirms individual schools’ rights to celebrate Pride, raise rainbow pride flags and to develop GSAs at all Regina Public Schools;
- Clear and accessible procedures for students and staff to put forward requests to host Pride related events and to develop a GSA, as well as procedures for students to file grievances or appeals if their school refuses their request;
- The creation of an ad-hoc committee comprised of representatives from students, school administrators, staff, parents, 2SLGBTQ+ organizations, and education researchers who have all shown knowledge and/or expertise on 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion to discuss the future of 2SLGBTQ+ initiatives at RPSB; and
- All Regina Public School Board Trustees to be trained on 2SLGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion.
A passionate affirmation of schools’ rights to celebrate Pride will promote a culture of respect towards individual schools that ensure the ongoing possibilities for schools to celebrate all of their students. A clear and accessible procedure for students to address gaps in their schools will ensure that students feel a sense of belonging and opportunities to respond if they ever feel as though they don’t belong. An ad-hoc committee comprised of knowledgeable voices surrounding 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion will show the RPSB’s commitment to responsible and informed decision making. Finally, Trustees undergoing 2SLGBTQ+ diversity training will provide a clear message to the public that you want to know the best ways of supporting 2SLGBTQ+ members of the RPSB community.
At UR Pride, we are proud to have a team made up of current RPSB parents, former RPSB students, social workers, educators, registered teachers, and community members who are extensively knowledgeable on 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion in education systems. Currently, we run a community youth centre, and host a weekly youth group, attended by many RPSB students, which provides us a lot of insight into the realities of 2SLGBTQ+ youth and their struggles with feeling safe at school. Aside from this, we also run the fYrefly in Schools Regina program, a community-based inclusion education program, and we are proud co-hosts of the annual Saskatchewan GSA Summit in partnership with OUTSaskatoon.
We are excited to offer our support and expertise to Regina Public Schools in developing a robust, inclusive, thoughtful response to the concerns of parents, students, staff and community members on the safety of 2SLGBTQ+ and allied children at RPSB. We regularly engage with community members, many of whom are connected to RPSB, and many parents, teachers and students have shared their fears and concerns with us, which we have taken into consideration in drafting this letter.
We commit to continuing our history of advocating for the safety and wellbeing of all children, and strong, inclusive structures that are responsible for supporting children and youth in Regina and Saskatchewan.
With pride and faith,
UR Pride Centre Board of Directors
cc: Greg Enion, Director of Education
cc: Debra Burnett, Secretary-Treasurer & Deputy Director of Division Services
cc: Darren Boldt, Deputy Director of Student Achievement/School Services
Suzanne, [Vice-Chair of UR Pride]
Thank you for your email dated November 26, 2019. I am confident your letter will continue to inform discussion around our board table. In fact, at yesterday’s board meeting, we referenced your letter as we discussed establishing the terms of reference for the Special Committee for Diversity being convened by the Board. We would like to thank you for contributing to this discussion and look forward to a continued relationship as we move forward.
The Special Committee for Diversity has a mandate, which will include, an objective to provide guidance to the Board of Education in terms of policy and procedures. More details will be released at a future board meeting.
Again, thank you for the work that you do and for your willingness to assist the board in these continued discussions.
Chair, Regina Public School Board of Education
We will continue to update this page with any official correspondence between our Board of Directors and the RPSB.
To get updates on our work relevant to Regina Public School Board, you can visit this page.