By Tim Kalinowski on June 21, 2017.
The next chapter in the saga pitting SD76 against local group Concerned Parents of SD76 over the division’s sexual identity and gender Policy 622 played out at Tuesday’s board of trustees meeting.
Jeremy Williamson of Concerned Parents re-submitted the group’s petition for more parental input into the policy after tweaking it to comply with a court ruling earlier this year, which found the group’s previous petition did not conform to the standards necessary for it to be accepted under law.
Williamson said on Tuesday his group is specifically against subsections J, K and L of Policy 622, which deal with gender identity of students and non-disclosure to parents. Despite several meetings in the past few months with SD76 administrators and trustees since Concerned Parents lost its court challenge, Williamson said many in his group felt their voices were still not being adequately heard. He hoped the new petition would lead to a committee being struck between parents in his group and trustees to study the policy in more detail.
Williamson acknowledged however, common ground would be hard to find because this is, at heart, about a difference in fundamental values.
“We’re not trying to impose our particular (Christian) values on all the other children, but we see these policies as dangerous to the health and well-being of the children because there is no age restriction in this (non-disclosure to parents) policy … A five-year-old is incapable of deciding his or her gender identity. If you left your five-year-old home alone while you went to the store, you would be charged with neglect. So a child this age is not even allowed to stay home alone, but they are allowed to choose their gender? These are serious questions that concern the health and proper development of children that have not been answered.”
SD76 board of trustees chair Rick Massini said he believed trustees have been very clear they are required to follow the law with respect to Policy 622, and he had hoped the last several months of meetings with Concerned Parents of SD76, and changes made to the policy in May, allowing teachers to advise students, without coercion, to speak to their parents if they are struggling with questions of gender, had at last found some common ground between the sides.
“We wanted to solve this problem and satisfy their concerns, but we couldn’t get to a point where we could discuss this and come to conclusion without moving to the next level,” said Massini. “It’s unfortunate but that’s the way the process works.”
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