Educators need to 'make it better now' for LGBT and questioning
TORONTO, Jan. 11 /CNW/ - Gay Straight Alliance groups must be supported
in all schools where students or staff request them because they help
ensure the safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans (LGBT) and
questioning students, according to the Elementary Teachers' Federation
"As educators, we need to do everything we can to protect the safety of
LGBT and questioning students and we know GSAs work," said ETFO
President Sam Hammond in response to a decision by Halton Catholic
School Board to ban GSAs. "We just witnessed high profile gay and
lesbian teen suicides last fall followed by a public campaign promising
LGBT youth that 'it will get better'. Well, it's time for schools to do
everything they can to make it better now for these vulnerable
"Rather than compromising students' privacy as the Halton Catholic Board
believes, GSAs provide a safe, neutral space where students can discuss
issues of sexuality without identifying as either straight or gay.
That's why they work," says Hammond. "When we see studies like the 2009
EGALE Canada report indicating that three-quarters of LGBT students,
and 95% of transgender students, feel unsafe at schools, we as
educators must continue to do more for these students."
For almost a decade, ETFO has promoted a Positive Space campaign with
posters and education about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans (LGBT)
education for Ontario's elementary teachers. In the coming months, ETFO
will assist its members to undertake projects such as GSAs that support
LGBT students as part of the Ministry of Education's new Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy introduced in 2009. Under that strategy, all boards and schools are
required to create and support a positive school climate that fosters
and promotes equity and diversity.
"While teachers, principals and boards are legally obligated to respond
to all forms of discrimination and harassment, homophobia and
gender-based violence will only be reduced through positive education
and role-modelling," adds Hammond. "Even at the elementary school
level, there are many ways that teachers can promote equity and
diversity in age-appropriate ways and ensure that classrooms are
inclusive and welcoming for all students."
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario represents 76,000
elementary public school teachers and education professionals across
the province and is the largest teacher federation in Canada.
SOURCE Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario
For further information:
Valerie Dugale, ETFO Media Relations: Cell: 416-948-0195