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Trans teachers protected

A new collective agreement between two Vancouver teachers’ associations and the Vancouver School Board (VSB) now includes language that recognizes discrimination based on gender identity.

The agreement aims to protect trans-identified and gender non-conforming employees against transphobia and other forms of harassment, says Glen Hansman, president of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers’ Association (VESTA). No other teachers’ contract in BC mentions gender identity, and it may be the first of its kind in Canada, he adds.

VESTA and the Vancouver Secondary Teachers’ Association (VSTA) also secured contract language that says nothing “requires the affected employee to actually possess a characteristic that is the basis for discrimination.”

Hansman cites the Azmi Jubran versus North Vancouver School Board case as the catalyst for that specific issue to be addressed in the new agreement. In 1996, Jubran filed a compliant with the BC Human Rights Commission after being taunted with homophobic slurs while a student at Handsworth Secondary School. Though the tribunal ruled in his favour, the BC Supreme Court later overturned the decision. But in 2005, the BC Court of Appeal reversed the Supreme Court decision, saying the North Vancouver School Board failed to prohibit discrimination based on a person’s real or perceived sexual orientation. Jubran is not gay.

“Thanks to Mr Jubran’s persistence, it is absolutely clear now that one does not have to be person of colour to be affected by racism, that one does not have to be gay to be a victim of homophobia. Our new collective agreement language reflects that,” Hansman says.

The agreement will be ratified Apr 12.