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Students talk about homophobia

Credit: Robin Perelle

Tell your story about school homophobia. As BC’s school safety task force prepares to hit the road for province-wide consultations next month, gay education and youth groups are already making plans to present-and urging others to do the same.

It’s a rare and important chance for our community to help make schools safe-and counter the arguments of those who oppose gay curriculum and anti-homophobia education.

Steve LeBel, of Gay and Lesbian Educators (GALE) says he hopes to convince the BC Liberals to take an active role in ensuring that all students have access to safe learning environments. The Ministry of Education needs to take responsibility and force all school boards to protect their students, he says.

The head of the task force, MLA Lorne Mayencourt, told Xtra West in July that he would like to see all BC school boards pass new harassment policies that specifically cite homophobia. And he promised to pass legislation if they refused to cooperate.

But Mayencourt needs to hear from the community now.

He’s particularly interested in hearing from gay groups directly involved with education. He says he hopes YouthQuest, Gab youth services and GALE will all share their recommendations about specific programs they have developed, such as gay-friendly curriculum material and gay-straight alliances.

To LeBel, one of the most important tools is addressing the root causes of harassment, such as homophobia. It’s not enough to come up with generic anti-harassment policies, he says.

Mayencourt says his government is committed to finding solutions.The government struck the task force in July after a province-wide survey revealed that nearly a quarter of Grade 10 students feel unsafe in school.

To share your views with the task force, call MLA Lorne Mayencourt at 250.387.2796. Check the schedule below to see when the task force will be in your area. Venues still to be determined.

Port Alberni-Nov 6, 10 am – 2 pm

Nanaimo-Nov 6, 5-9 pm

Kamloops-Nov 12, 10 am – 2 pm

Merritt-Nov 12, 4-8 pm

Golden-Nov 13, 2-7 pm

Vernon-Nov 14, 10 am – 1 pm

Kelowna-Nov 14, 4-7 pm

Victoria-Dec 2, 10 am –4 pm

Surrey-Dec 3, 2-8 pm

Coquitlam-Dec 4, 2-8 pm

Vancouver-Dec 5, 2-7 pm

Prince Rupert-Dec 9, 10 am – 1 pm

Burns Lake-Dec 10, 9-10 am

Prince George-Dec 11, 11 am – 6 pm

Dawson Creek-Dec 12, 1-4 pm