Supporting Students of a Sexual Minority – APC041
Reviewed/Revised: October 15, 2012
It is the belief of the WCDSB that all people possess an essential dignity because they are absolutely loved by God and called to love one another. It is the responsibility of the community then, to ensure that all people – staff, student, or otherwise – can engage in a learning environment that is safe, inclusive, and seeks to foster their fundamental goodness. It is these beliefs that cause the WCDSB to proclaim a powerful vision and mission:
Vision: Our Catholic Schools…heart of the community, success for each and a place for all.
Mission: As disciples of Christ, we seek to educate and nurture hope in all learners to realize their full potential to transform God’s world.
While all members of the community have a right to learning environments that are safe and inclusive, the WCDSB recognizes that a particular duty of care is owed to those individuals and groups who are relegated to the margins of the community, who labour without a voice, and whose needs call us to an even greater diligence and advocacy. The preferential option for the poor and vulnerable – a fundamental tenet of Catholic Social Teaching – names this mandate as a moral imperative that must be at the core of our community’s life.
Students who identify as a member of sexual minority often experience hostility, harassment, and abuse as a part of their learning environment regardless of the efforts of supportive and loving members of the community. Not all students who identify as a member of a sexual minority are voiceless; they are articulate, confident, and comfortable working for their own safety and the safety of others in the community. Many of these same students however, describe an unwillingness to advocate for themselves or share their concerns with those who can advocate for them. There are many reasons for this voicelessness but regardless of the motivation, the result is the same: they “have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action” and often in silence. In all cases the Church and the community of Catholic Education recognizes this as deplorable.
It is the responsibility – both moral and legal – of the school to work towards eliminating bullying and ensuring learning environments that are safe and inclusive. This responsibility is not that of staff alone; student voice and leadership is a critical factor in realizing schools in which all people are welcomed, valued, and celebrated. As such, the WCDSB is committed to fostering student voice and “shall support pupils who want to establish and lead activities and organisations that promote a safe and inclusive learning environment.”
The intent of this document is to provide a set of criteria that will help schools to support and facilitate students in activities and organisations that promote learning environments in which there is truly success for each and a place for all.