June 29, 2016
The Manitoba Teachers’ Society wants to work with the Hanover School Division as it grapples with issues involving LGBTTQ students.
The offer was made June 29 by MTS President Norm Gould to a meeting of the division board.
“We are here to work with you so that we can get closer to achieving what we all want — a safe and inclusive learning environment where all our students have the supports they need to learn and grow.”
The division has been at the centre of controversy for its policy of not allowing classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity until students are in high school. A human rights complaint has been filed against the division over the policy.
Gould said the Society recognizes that the issue is not easy for school trustees.
“We aren’t downplaying or dismissing what you as school trustees and the community wrestle with,” he said. “We totally understand and recognize that change isn’t easy. We get that this topic triggers emotional reactions in some people.
“Ten years ago, LGBTTQ-inclusive education was a topic seldom discussed in Manitoba; we have learned over these years that the absence of those discussions have caused a lot of pain for students, families and communities.”
Communities have been forced to discuss these issues to protect students, some of which committed suicide after being bullied.
“We have asked ourselves: how can we take tragic events and use them as catalysts for change; to prevent similar horrific events from paralyzing our communities?
“Recognizing that schools need to be a safe place for students in order for them to succeed, these tragic events led to the development of policies aimed at curbing the harassment of LGBTTQ students and the creation of inclusive school environments.”
The Manitoba Teachers’ Society has been in the forefront in supporting students, educators and trustees in ensuring all schools are safe and inclusive.
“We, as Manitobans, are used to supporting one another and we are quick to help our neighbours when the need arises, by providing a helping hand,” Gould said. “The Manitoba Teachers’ Society is here tonight to extend that hand of friendship and collaboration.
“We are offering our services, our expertise, our connections and our commitment to work alongside Hanover School Division.
“Change doesn’t come easily and we cannot control when change is going to happen. But we can control how we react to change when it is thrust upon us and decide who will walk beside us along this journey.
“I hope that we will be able to work together to affect that change and that you can trust in The Manitoba Teachers’ Society to be there with you.”