Little interest shown in anti-homophobic policy for schools

Jason Hewlett / Kamloops Daily News
January 6, 2014 01:00 AM

What little feedback the school district has received about a proposed anti-homophobic policy suggests such a document isn't needed, the committee's chairman said Monday.

About 10 of the more than 50 questionnaires the committee sent out to school parent advisory councils, union locals and principals were returned at the end of the October, said committee chairman Gerald Watson.

The questionnaires asked a variety of questions, including if incidents occurred at a school within two years, if those were related to gender and sexual orientation and if those cases were appropriately dealt with by the district's current policies on bullying, said Watson.

He said the questionnaire also asked if a specific policy would be effective.

"We got zero (questionnaires) back saying they wanted a discreet (anti-homophobic) policy," said Watson.

There was also a small discussion group of students consulted, some of whom thought the policy would be beneficial, he said.

Watson said the only group that didn't provide feedback was the Kamloops-Thompson Teachers' Association, which started the process with a presentation to the board last April.

Teachers' association president Jason Karpuk said a decision was made to let the union's initial concerns stand as official feedback on the matter.

The presentation suggested current policy is not comprehensive enough and teachers need a better tool for responding to issues.

"I don't think there was anything we could have added," said Karpuk.

The committee meets again within the next couple of weeks and will make a recommendation to the board after that.

Karpuk believes a policy is needed. He said people aren't reporting homophobic bullying and intimidation because there's no set policy.

"Students who are being bullied aren't going to come forward," said Karpuk. "We have to make them feel like it's unacceptable and they are protected."

A couple of months after the teachers' presentation, South Kamloops secondary student presents school trustees with a 700-signature petition asking for an anti-homophobia policy in the school district.

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