Vancouver School Board’s new ‘gender identity’ policy ignores parents: critics
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, June 6, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Concerned parents have managed to stall for a time what they say is an under-the-radar attempt by the Vancouver School Board’s (VSB) LGBTQ+ committee to have the board adopt radical revisions to its existing “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities” policy. They believe the policy revisions, which are now expected to be put to a vote on June 11, would usurp parental authority and potentially harm children.
The new policy grants students confidentiality in how they identify their gender at school, bars staff from referring students for counseling that would “change [their] sexual orientation or gender identity,” and allows students to choose which bathroom they use.
The concerned parents, led by lawyer Cheryl Chang, who chairs the Parent Advisory Council at a local high school in the VSB, are being labeled as “homophobes” for raising concerns over the proposed revisions.
“I’m representing parents who actually love their children, want to be involved in parenting them, and what we’re being told is: ‘No, the school knows better. You’re all dangerous, especially if you have religious beliefs that gender is associated with genitals, then you are wrong,’” Chang said in an interview with Sun News’ Brian Lilley, host of Byline.
“I think it’s unfortunate that anyone who speaks against the policy, or specific parts of the policy, is immediately labeled as ‘homophobic’ and ‘against the transgendered community’ and I think that is appalling, frankly. It’s politics of the worse kind,” she said.
No notice given to parents
On April 10, the board’s Pride Advisory Committee presented a completely altered version of the existing 2004 policy to various committees for discussion at two upcoming meetings, with the goal of having the revised policy come up for a vote on May 20.
But according to Chang’s group Protecting All Children In School (PACIS), the board did not advise parents of the proposed changes. “There has been no meaningful consultation with parents or the medical and mental health professions,” the group stated on its website at the time.
Urged by a number of concerned parents, Chang wrote an open letter to VSB’s board of trustees on April 22, saying the time between the draft policy’s release and the proposed vote was “grossly insufficient” and urging them to delay the vote.
“I, along with many other parents, have serious concerns that need to be addressed, and rushing this policy through a vote on May 20 would be a serious mistake by the Board,” she wrote.
Policy could ‘set our children up for a life of suffering’
Chang raised a number of concerns in the VSB open letter over the proposed revisions, including that school staff would be required to keep confidential how a student expresses gender during school hours, be it as either a boy, girl, or neither, regardless of biological make-up.
The draft policy states: “Students’ rights to discuss and express their gender identity and/or gender expression openly and to decide when, with whom, and how much private information to share, will be recognized and protected.”
Another concern Chang raised is that the draft revision would prohibit staff from seeking medical help for students struggling with their gender identity.
The draft policy says staff “will not refer students to programs or services that attempt to change a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”
According to Chang, that line from the policy suggests that staff cannot suggest a student seek counseling should they self-identify as another gender. “Any parent knows that children often have desires that they outgrow. To support a child only in what they want, when they want it, is not good parenting nor good teaching, and will set our children up for a life of suffering,” she wrote.
“Parents have a right to be informed about issues affecting the health and well-being of their children,” she continued. “Only medical professionals can determine which children need counseling and treatment for gender identity issues, and the appropriate advice and treatment. It is irresponsible and potentially harmful to prevent staff from referring such children for programs or services to assist them with appropriate treatment.”
The policy would also allow students who have self-identified as either a boy or girl — despite their biological make-up — to have “washroom and change room accessibility” so as to “ensur[e] the student’s safety and comfort, minimizing stigmatization.” Such students will also be able to “participate in any sex-segregated recreational and competitive athletic activities, in accordance with their gender identity.”
While Chang’s letter delayed the board’s May 20 vote on the policy revisions, it also rallied friends of the LGBTQ+ movement who complained about the letter at a meeting last week at Lord Byng Secondary School where Chang chairs the school’s Parent Advisory Council. A majority voted to have the letter rescinded, reported Metro News.
Chang did not respond to LifeSiteNews.com’s request for comment by press time.
Parents call for more consultation
The parent’s group has created a petition to have the VSB “delay consideration” of the draft revised policy “until proper consultation with parents, teachers, and medical and mental health care providers has taken place.”
“Any such policy should strive to build and maintain a safe and positive learning environment for all children, regardless of race, religion, mental or physical capacity, appearance, sexual orientation or gender identity, and ensure that all families and their children can feel welcome in school, and be able to participate free from discrimination and harassment on any grounds,” the petition states.
View PACIS’s petition here.