Burnaby, BC, August 26, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An email that was inadvertently sent by an official with the Burnaby School Board to a member of a parents’ group clearly exposes a plot to block the parents’ request for information about the board’s controversial “gender identity” policy, according to the parent who received the e-mail.
“Our suspicions as parents have now been confirmed: there is a deliberate strategy to stonewall the FOI (Freedom of Information) process and withhold crucial documents from parents, taxpayers and the media,” the parent, George Kovacic, told LifeSiteNews.com.
Kovacic pointed out that the e-mail suggests that board members are scheming to delay the release of the requested information past the November board elections.
“They must have some incredibly damaging information that they do not want to release,” he said.
In the implicating e-mail, Betty Choi, Executive Assistant to Burnaby District 41 Superintendent Claudio Morelli, writes: “we should just let him [Kovacic] initiate his complaint to the Privacy Commissioner, and then wait for them to contact us, that will delay him even further, maybe past the elections.”
In May 2009, the Burnaby Board of Education formed a group to address “homophobic harassment and bullying, and homophobia and heterosexism” in Burnaby schools, according to the school district’s website. The “Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity” policy (# 5.45) was approved by the board on June 14, 2011, amidst an outcry and protest from numerous concerned parents.
The policy gives educators the power to “define appropriate … behaviours and actions [of students] to promote greater awareness of, and responsiveness to, the deleterious effects of homophobia, transphobia, anti-gay harassment and exclusion.”
“Teachers shall be encouraged to include age appropriate LGBTQ+ issues into curriculum,” says the policy, adding: “School staffs shall be encouraged to support LGBTQ+ people by teaching about their positive contributions to society and modeling acceptance of diversity.”
Kovacic, a leading force behind The Parents’ Voice, a grassroots movement of parents who are fighting the wording of the policy, told LSN that during the crafting of the policy, nobody knew about it.
He pointed to the British Columbia “Provincial Standards for Codes of Conduct Order,” which outlines the process that must, at a minimum, be addressed in the development and review of all codes of conduct in schools, which he says were clearly not followed in this case.
“All British Columbia schools must consult with students, parents and staff in the development and review of codes of conduct,” says the standards.
“We asked other parents in our school and other schools if they had heard of the policy, and they said ‘no,’” Kovacic said. “The teacher of my child did not know about the policy. Nobody [I talked to] knew about it.”
In an attempt to verify the Burnaby School District’s claim that a policy was needed to prevent homophobic harassment and bullying that existed in Burnaby schools, The Parents’s Voice used the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) to request that the school board “produce copies of all reports, incidences recorded, and/or complaints made involving students, staff or any other person related to the operation of the Burnaby School District, that has been party to any form of bullying incident, assault, harassment, verbal abuse or any form of mean-spirited conduct that has occurred on or near any property owned, managed or operated by School District 41.”
The School Board refused to honor the request, however, citing what they claimed would be the high costs involved to produce the information.
“According to my calculation we have been waiting for 125 days,” Kovacic says.
The Parents’ Voice believes that the information, if they ever succeed in obtaining it, will prove what they have maintained all along, namely that “bullying incidents in Burnaby will not justify the political agenda of policy 5.45.”
“Our children deserve better than to have policies developed by hyperbolic-spin propaganda, masquerading as research, generated by sex activists who want to promulgate their version of diversity politics and practices among our children, via the public education system,” they say.
To regain the parents’ trust, Kovacic told LSN that The Parents’ Voice is asking that the Burnaby School Board “release all the information that has been requested, apologize to the taxpayers of Burnaby, and parents, students, and teachers of Burnaby for wasting taxpayers dime and time, and engage in an open and transparent discussion regarding the policy so all parents will know what is going on, so that everyone can make their views and opinions noted, and if necessary, that changes be made.”
Gordon World, spokesman for The Parents’ Voice said that “[t]he Board should be ensuring that staff dedicates (sic) their time to meeting the educational needs of Burnaby students, not wasting taxpayer money and time trying to cover-up shamefully bad, politically-driven policy decisions made by the Trustees.”
Superintendent Claudio Morelli
Board of Trustees Contact Information:
Larry Hayes (Chair)
Baljinder Narang (Vice-Chair)