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Egale inches forward on education survey

The Gay and Lesbian Educators of British Columbia (GALE BC) sent an open letter to Egale Canada executive director Helen Kennedy on Oct 29 requesting the refund of $1,000 that GALE donated to Egale for a national school survey of queer students. But after speaking with Kennedy, spokesperson Steve LeBel issued a letter of retraction saying GALE had been under the impression that Egale wasn’t going to run the survey at all.

“I’m glad to find out that my information was wrong and that my first letter should be thrown in the garbage,” says LeBel. “The big story is miscommunication and my leaping to a conclusion.”

According to the first letter GALE understood the school survey would be launched on May 17 of this year on the International Day Against Homophobia. Kennedy says the survey was postponed because Egale wanted to put it through an ethics review. She says that process, now complete, was done at the University of Winnipeg.

“We didn’t want to send it out without making sure we had received an ethics review,” Kennedy told Xtra on Oct 31, “So we did and we got the certificate two weeks ago.”

Kennedy says GALE’s $1,000 donation is in the bank and earning interest. She says Egale is still raising funds for the survey which she estimates will cost $60,000 in total.

“I’d say we’ve probably spent $1,000 on conference calls with [Egale’s] education committee,” she says.

“[Kennedy] assures me it will be launched before the end of the calendar year,” says LeBel. “That’s all I know and that’s all I care about because our money was to go to that.”

Kathleen MacKinnon, media relations officer for the BC Teachers Federation, says Egale has also received two grants of $1,000 each from her organization.

This isn’t the first time there’s been conflict because of the survey.
On May 19 four members of Egale’s education committee resigned. One of them, James Chamberlain, told Xtra then that he quit because Egale post-poned the survey’s launch. Chamberlain did not return Xtra’s calls for this story before press time.