Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey released guidelines today, Dec. 10, to support schools and school boards in protecting and respecting students as they assert their gender identity and right to gender expression.
The guidelines complement the amendments made to the Human Rights Act in December 2012 that protect transgender people from discrimination. They will help schools and school boards to create a culture that is safe, respectful and supportive of transgender and gender nonconforming students.
“We are very excited that these guidelines will help educators, youth and their families better understand and include transgender youth in our community,” said Sheena Jamieson, support services co-ordinator of The Youth Project. “We support many transgender youth across the province who run into challenges around being included, and we field questions from many educators who want to be better informed.
“The guidelines will be a helpful tool in our work to better serve the needs of transgender students, and it means a lot that trans youth were a part of the development process.”
The guidelines were developed by a working committee that included members of school boards, Nova Scotia Teachers Union, Human Rights Commission, The Youth Project and the department.
“Our schools need to be safe, welcoming spaces where students of all backgrounds feel comfortable,” said Ms. Casey. “The department and its partners are committed to implementing guidelines that respect the needs and the dignity of our transgender students, and all of our students.”
The guidelines identify seven areas of support that include using the student’s preferred name and pronoun, providing easy access to gender neutral washrooms and private change rooms, and providing all students with full access to physical education classes and extracurricular activities, including competitive sports, in a safe, inclusive and respectful environment.
“These guidelines will help our schools model the respectful culture needed to ensure all Nova Scotians are treated with dignity and are free from discrimination,” said Lena Metlege Diab, Minister responsible for the Human Rights Act.
The guidelines also clearly spell out the roles and responsibilities of students, teachers and school boards in creating and providing a supportive environment. They include respecting the rights of all students with regards to their gender identity and gender expression, developing an action plan for transphobic incidents and promoting and celebrating transgender and gender non-conforming communities.
The department will work with school boards’ Race Relations, Cross Cultural Understanding co-ordinators to implement the guidelines.
The guidelines can be found at http://ednet.ns.ca.