Ontario Student Trustees encourage progress on anti-homophobia initiatives

TORONTO, May 13 /CNW/ - The student trustees of the Ontario Student Trustees' Association - l'Association des élèves conseillers et conseillères de l'Ontario (OSTA-AECO) recognize the need for student-led groups in all schools that focus on anti-homophobia awareness and equitable rights for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) students. As a result of ongoing consultation with student trustees, it is clear that now more than ever, students are insisting on equitable opportunities and security for each of their peers, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, in alignment with the inclusive principles of Canadian society.

OSTA-AECO recognizes the need for more proactive supports for students wanting to address homophobic bullying and LGBTQ concerns within their schools, and has come to recognize the recent progress that has been made to address this issue, specifically in the publicly funded Catholic education system. OSTA-AECO looks forward to working in co-operation with both the secular and Catholic education communities, collectively enhancing inclusiveness in schools by establishing frameworks with which to all students in solidarity against discrimination based on sexual orientation and sexuality. Safer spaces within schools are important for LGBTQ youth and their allies because it may be the only place for them to access peer support without the threat of non-acceptance or bullying. Supporting student-led activities can address discrimination while promoting diversity and inclusiveness amongst the student body and school community. OSTA-AECO President Maria Bun voices, "We must make sure that each student in Ontario feels supported in a healthy learning environment, and this inclusive culture is created best when it is student driven". The statement of the Catholic Board Council of OSTA-AECO is "Together with all of our partners in education, we will make this a reality for LGBTQ students in public and Catholic schools by allowing groups that function to offer support to those who ask for it. Catholic schools have always provided supports for their students, inspired by Christ, and they continue to do so with their initiatives directed toward this issue."

As of a few weeks ago, a committee has been in place, comprised of students, parents, trustees, educators, clergy, and other members of the Catholic school community, which will address the call for student "focus groups" regarding acceptance of LGBTQ students in school. The following points outline the goals OSTA-AECO has for the outcome of this initiative:

  • The group is a student club, led and directed by students; it is supported by staff
  • Students who are part of the group will have the opportunity to run events and discussions with topics such as club promotion, anti-homophobia and homophobic bullying, LGBTQ issues, and fostering an accepting attitude
  • Students shall have the flexibility to provide peer support which may include a unique and appropriate name for their school's group, a name that is safe yet identifiable for all students in their school community
  • The framework for this club provides students with a safe space that, in addition to spreading awareness about the importance of inclusivity and combatting homophobia, will serve students who are struggling with their identities and are seeking peer support.

It is with absolute conviction that OSTA-AECO encourages both cooperative initiatives and continued student consultation as the education system strives towards more inclusive schools.

SOURCE Ontario Student Trustees' Association

For further information:

Maria Bun, President
1 416 477 2069 ext 0

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Ontario Student Trustees' Association

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