Note: This letter was sent to each member of the Hanover School Division Board of Trustees. Information about the board meeting that is a response to can be found on the Hanover School Division website.
I attended the open board meeting yesterday (June 7th), and heard a lot of good things from each Trustee. After listening to the hour and a half discussion in a packed board room, it is clear that changes need to be made.
There are some members of the community who strongly believe that Hanover School Division policies need to be updated in order to discourage discrimination. There are also those who oppose change because they fear that the voices of parents will be drowned out.
Trustee Brad Unger hit the nail on the head when he said that both sides of this discussion need to listen to each other. He’s right. The only way for this issue to truly be resolved is to find a middle ground.
The Hanover School Division policy that is the most in question, is the requirement that teachers phone home when a student asks questions about homosexuality. Opponents to this policy correctly identify it as discriminatory since it gives precedence to one form of sexuality over another. Their solution to this policy is to prevent teachers from calling home all together. This goes to far.
Parents are the primary caregiver of their children, and as such have a right to know what is going on in school. This right should not be trampled upon. However teachers should not “out” students sexual preferences to their parents. That is a responsibility that belongs to the student.
We have to weigh the rights of both students and parents. We need to make a decision that protects students right to privacy, ends discriminatory policy, and protects parents right to know what their children are being taught.
Instead of removing the policy that requires teachers to call home when homosexuality is discussed, that policy should be modified to require teachers to call home when any type of sexuality is discussed. Homosexuality is just as sensitive as a traditional male-female relationship and should be treated as such. By implementing this change it will end unfairly discriminating against those with an LGBT nature, while protecting parents rights to know what their children are being told.
However, this is not a complete solution. We still need to protect students privacy. A teacher should never “out” a student. When a teacher calls home to inform a parent that their child asked questions about sexuality, the teacher should be limited as to what they can say. They should only be allowed to inform the parent that a conversation has taken place. The contents of that conversation should remain confidential. If a parent wants to know the contents of that discussion, they are free to ask their child.
I hereby propose that the Hanover School Division adopts a policy that is based on my thoughts above. Doing so will protect the rights of both parents and students, while ending discrimination.
It is only in a middle ground solution such as this that we can move on from this peacefully.
Thank you taking this into consideration.