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Social Justice 12 course ready to pilot

A draft version of the long-awaited Social Justice 12 course expected to include content addressing sexual orientation and gender identity will be available online for public review and response from Aug 1 until Dec 10.

An education ministry spokesperson told Xtra West by e-mail Jul 30 that the elective will be piloted in some seven BC classrooms this fall. The names of the schools that will give the course a test run over the next four months will not be available “until confirmations are complete,” according to the spokesperson.

The course, born out of a human rights complaint which education activists Peter and Murray Corren settled with the education ministry in spring last year, is expected to be “fully implemented” in schools in September 2008.

“What we have recommended is the GALE handbook as a resource because there are so many good lessons and lots of them are appropriate for the high school level,” says Faune Johnson of the Gay and Lesbian Educators of BC (GALE), who sat on the elective’s writing team.

“There are lots of sensitivity exercises, a lot of factual information, so I think it will be quite useful. The lessons are non-threatening, and they are interesting and they will work quite well for the secondary students, and especially students in Grade 12,” she says.

Johnson says the test run will highlight whether the resources match the learning outcomes expected, support them adequately and whether more learning resources are needed.

“We are not there to necessarily indoctrinate anybody,” Johnson asserts. “We are there to give information. That’s the focus of the course.”

Content will include the background of different forms of oppression, the kinds of things that have been done to address these oppressions, and what strategies activists can adopt to continue to address these oppressions, according to Johnson.

Sexual orientation and gender identity are a substantive part of the course content “equal with all the other groups,” Johnson confirms.

Asked whether the test run will proceed regardless of how many students are enrolled in the course, Johnson says it’s hard to know, but contends there is a legal commitment to follow through with this course.

What will be important is supporting the teachers who are interested in teaching the course, she says.

“If there is somebody in every secondary school who’s interested, then we’ll want to have some sort of network perhaps among them and provide resources and recommend resources, and recommend lessons they can use.”