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Why school trustees matter too

'Schools are where our youth are': Bouey

Jane Bouey Credit: photo courtesy of Coalition of Progressive Electors

School trustee candidate Jane Bouey says she is often asked why she hasn’t “moved up” to run for a city council seat. In response, she says she’s passionate about education and refuses to see school trustee as a ‘lesser’ position.

“Schools are where our children and youth are,” the queer COPE candidate explains.

On the Vancouver School Board (VSB) from 2002-2005, Bouey says she’s proud of what she and her fellow COPE trustees were able to accomplish.

The only queer trustee, Bouey was instrumental in establishing the VSB’s Pride Advisory Committee, which worked with the board to develop and implement a comprehensive policy to address homophobia in schools.

“There was nobody else doing things quite as comprehensively as us in the province,” claims Bouey.

If re-elected, Bouey says she will work to enhance existing initiatives and implement needed changes. “[COPE] has an agreement to work at not just maintaining the work that has been done, but also try to improve and expand that work. There are certain areas that weren’t covered as well as they should have,” she says.

She points, for example, to trans issues that still need to be addressed in the school system.

Bouey also thinks BC’s Code of Conduct policy —making codes prohibiting unacceptable behaviour consistent with the Human Rights Code mandatory for all schools in the province —is an important first step, but she’s disappointed that the province hasn’t contributed financially.

“One of my frustrations is that the province has never provided any special funding” for anti-homophobia initiatives in schools, she says.

But Education minister Shirley Bond says government funding for BC schools has increased and it is up to each district to decide where dollars are spent. “Government has provided education funding to a record $5.68 billion —an increase of 23 percent since 2001,” she says in an email to Xtra West. “We have given school districts the flexibility to allocate funding based on local needs and priorities, as they are in the best position to do so. It is important that boards of education do everything possible to ensure the health and safety of all students.”

Bouey says anti-homophobia education is critical, especially in light of recent high-profile gaybashings. “All you have to do is look at what happened to Jordan Smith this fall. Look at what happened to Aaron Webster back in 2001,” she says. “I believe firmly that we can make our schools in Vancouver places where students will learn so that [violent attacks] are rare and far between —and not something that we know happens all the time and are just not reported,” she says.

“Pay attention to the school board,” Bouey urges. “Take the time to vote.”