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More work to be done, says Vancouver School Board candidate

'I want to ensure students know that policy exists and what it says': Jane Bouey

Jane Bouey was instrumental in establishing the Vancouver School Board's Pride Advisory Committee. Credit: cope.bc.ca

Vying for her third term on the Vancouver School Board, queer trustee Jane Bouey says the board has accomplished a lot for our community’s youth, but more needs to be done.

Bouey, who’s running on the COPE slate, was reelected to the school board in 2008, having previously served from 2002 to 2005. She has been vice-chair of the Vancouver School Board for the last three years.

As the only queer trustee, Bouey was instrumental in establishing the board’s Pride advisory committee in her first term. The committee worked with the board to implement BC’s first comprehensive policy to address homophobia in schools.

Bouey remains devoted to ensuring schools are more welcoming, inclusive and accessible for all students.

“There are real barriers in our schools that are systemic, such as poverty and racism,” she says. “The only way we are going to tackle these issues and build schools that are safe and celebrate diversity is to work collaboratively.”

Bouey tells Xtra the main issue in this election is making schools safer, more engaging and more relevant to students. She points to the May 2011 Egale Canada report Every Class in Every School: The First National Climate Survey on Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia in Canadian Schools as demonstrating the need to protect queer students in every school district.

The report says 74 percent of trans students, 55 percent of sexual minority students and 26 percent of non-queer students reported being verbally harassed about their sexual orientation.

While Vancouver has a policy to deal with homophobic bullying, more students need to be aware of it, Bouey says. “I want to ensure students know that policy exists and what it says.”

She is seeking reelection to ensure the policy continues to be strengthened throughout the district. More work needs to be done to ensure that all spaces, particularly washrooms and change-rooms, are safe for all students, including trans students, she says.

Bouey says she’s proud of what COPE and Vision trustees have been able to accomplish on the Vancouver School Board, and she’s proud of the support they’ve offered other initiatives, such as the Purple Letter Campaign, which petitioned the BC Education Ministry for a provincewide directive to implement anti-homophobia policies.

Currently, only 15 of the province’s 60 school districts have anti-homophobia policies.

“How many students have to die before the politicians are willing to act, not just talk?” Bouey asks.