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Central Okanagan school trustees condemn bullying, harassment, intolerance

Trustees re-affirm commitment to safe and inclusive schools

The Central Okanagan Board of Education has issued a statement reaffirming its commitment to public schools being safe and inclusive places to work and learn.

The statement originated from a resolution by trustee Wayne Broughton at the board’s June 14 meeting in response to the controversial incident after an elementary student was publicly misgendered and verbally accosted by a grandfather at the annual elementary school track and field meet held June 8 at the Apple Bowl.

Trustee Lee-Ann Tiede, board of education chair, said while different points of view are represented on the school board, “we are united when it comes to the safety and inclusion of students in our schools.”

Tiede said it is unfortunate as another school year winds down and there are so many positives to celebrate and recognize about student achievements this year, the Apple Bowl incident has taken away the focus from that.

“Hopefully with this statement being made, trustees can get back to focusing on all the good things going in these last two weeks of school,” she said.

The board of education statement reads as follows:

After the recent incident at a District-led event in the community where the behaviour of adults negatively impacted young students, The Board of Education for Central Okanagan Public Schools re-affirms its commitment to safe and inclusive places to learn and work. Our trustees unanimously condemn any form of bullying, harassment, or intolerance in or around schools, including at District-led events in our larger community.

The safety of students and staff is always the top priority of Central Okanagan Public Schools, and the harassment of any child, youth, or staff member in our district is never acceptable within schools or from adults in our community.

Our work in governance of B.C.’s fifth-largest public school district is directed by our Strategic Plan, where our Purpose is to provide a safe, inclusive, equitable, and inspirational learning environment where each learner can flourish.

Inclusion is key because each learner must have the opportunity to be a child, follow their dreams, and ultimately succeed in their individual educational pursuits.

Our district policies against bullying, harassment, and discrimination align with the BC Human Rights Code so that people can learn and work without fear of discrimination based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other aspect of their individual identity.

We believe that our district’s culture is a large part of why we’re among the best-performing school districts in Canada for one simple reason: when individuals feel the safety of belonging, they are ready to learn.

We do not condone any political agendas, movements, or groups that are increasingly spreading intolerance and misinformation. While everyone is entitled to hold their own views, no one is entitled to express views or make false statements that defame, harass, or threaten our students or staff. We continue to strive to build a caring community, which includes anyone that is 2SLGBTQIA+.

As a public school system, we strive to reduce bullying and ensure that everyone can feel safe, cared for, and ready to learn. Any form of intolerance will never be welcome in Central Okanagan Public Schools. We encourage everyone in our community to reflect on how they can contribute to caring communities through kindness, inclusion, and acceptance.

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Barry Gerding

About the Author: Barry Gerding

Senior regional reporter for Black Press Media in the Okanagan. I have been a journalist in the B.C. community newspaper field for 37 years...
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