A recommendation to increase the Vancouver School Board’s (VSB) anti-homophobia and diversity consultant’s weekly hours is contingent on the board’s ability to find more funding.
The VSB’s Pride Advisory Committee, which proposed the increase for the district’s 2008/2009 budget passed Apr 28, says the consultant’s growing workload requires expanding his hours from 2.5 to 4 days a week.
“The work that the consultant and the advisory committee have been doing has been so successful and creating such a demand in the district that the amount of staffing we had for it was insufficient to be able to meet the needs of the district in a whole number of areas,” says Pride Advisory Committee member Jane Bouey.
“He’s doing a lot of workshops in schools and also some individual work. He covers K to 12 on his own,” says Bouey, noting that before the current anti-homophobia consultant, Steve Mulligan, assumed that portfolio, two people shared the part-time position.
Vancouver’s leading role in anti-homophobia work in Canada means that Mulligan’s responsibilities also include acting as advisor to the education ministry when called upon, adds Bouey, as well as acting as a media liaison — duties that other consultants don’t do “at the same level.”
An attachment to the school board’s budget listing the proposals awaiting funding — including the consultant’s time increase — does not indicate which proposals will receive priority if additional funding became available, Bouey reveals.
“It’s just a matter of waiting and continuing to make the case,” says Bouey, urging the queer community to write to the school board to impress upon them that the position is a priority.
“The history is that additional funding has come through,” notes Bouey. “It’s just a question of the amount.”
Increasing the anti-homophobia consultant’s workweek as proposed will cost about $57,000. The total cost of implementing all the proposed additional funding stands at $1.95 million.