The Surrey Board of Education will form a working group in the fall to examine how best to address homophobia in schools.
The move came Thursday evening after presentations from two high school students and representatives from the Surrey Teachers’ Association and CUPE local 728, which represents school support staff.
The speakers were asking specifically for the standalone anti-homophobia policy similar to those that have now been adopted by 18 other B.C. school districts.
However, also on the agenda for the evening were amendments to Surrey’s current Safe & Caring Schools policy and anti-discrimination & human rights policy so include homophobia.
Trustees approved the changes to existing guidelines, with the exception of Charlene Dobie, who wanted time for district staff to consider them in light of issues brought to light by Thursday’s speakers.
But Trustee Laurie Larsen said the “global policy” was a needed first step, and put forth a motion suggesting the working group convene at the beginning of the new school year to further study issues surrounding homophobia.
For Michaela Milne, a Grade 12 student at Tamanawis Secondary who was one of the student speakers, the move by the board was a step in the right direction.
“I hope they will eventually adopt a standalone policy,” she said. “I have to trust that the trustees will realize it’s about saving lives.”
Grade 9 student Anthony Hope, who made a presentation to trustees, agreed and said the response was better than he expected.
“A working group is a good start. It should involve the community as well as students,” he said.
Both students said they’d be happy to contribute should the district ask them to.