Speaking Notes: May 17th TDSB/EGALE Canada Announcement
Today is an important day – the International Day to Eliminate Homophobia – an issue that continues to cause serious problems in our society.
Bullying due to homophobia, transphobia, sexual and gender identity is simply not acceptable.
That’s part of the reason why we have a strong mandate against bullying and intolerance in schools and in the workplace.
At the Toronto District School Board, we are continuing to build inclusive schools for all of our students. But the fact of the matter is we are still not where we want to be.
We must move beyond an environment in which students merely tolerate one another to schools that are accepting and affirming of every child’s identity.
I have to tell you about how far we’ve come in just the past few years. We have taken many steps to help support students who face homophobia from their peers.
A dedicated staff team is now devoted to implementing our new gender-based violence policy in our schools.
We’ve started a board-wide positive space campaign to ensure safe spaces and trained staff are in every school in our system.
This year, for the first time, I awarded three of our leading Gay-Straight Alliances for their outstanding student engagement and leadership in building inclusive schools.
And most recently as an act of solidarity and commitment to challenging these issues head on, our Board of Trustees declared themselves a gay-straight alliance.
Now, I must get on to the real reason we are here – today, it is my great honour to announce a special partnership between the TDSB and EGALE Canada. We are hosting the first ever National Gay-Straight Alliance summit for secondary school students in May 2013 – right here at Jarvis CI.
This summit will bring together 400 high school students involved in GSAs from across the country to learn about what’s happening across Canada. They will develop local, Provincial and Territorial action plans and a charter statement will be sent to Federal and Provincial/ Territorial Ministries of Education.
We make this announcement well in advance recognizing that for a premiere summit of this type it will take a great deal of planning outreach and fundraising.
I am so proud to announce this event today. It is a tremendous opportunity for the Board and an historic event in the national education community.
Our hope is that other school boards across the country will not only participate in this event, but pick up the torch and host ongoing national GSA summits in each province and territory in coming years.