Meeting Notes - February 19, 2019

I am proud that the GECDSB passed a motion tonight to fly Pride flags at elementary schools for one week in June.

We passed a similar motion to fly them at secondary schools a couple of years ago. The mover of the motion, Trustee Julia Burgess, noted that the flags are a symbol of inclusivity and a safe space for students, staff, and the community, and they show that everyone is welcome at GECDSB.

David Lenz from Pridefest gave a presentation which included an offer to provide the flags at no cost to GECDSB as well as a description of the meaning of each colour in the flag from top to bottom:

Red represents life;

Orange represents healing;

Yellow represents sunlight;

Green represents nature;

Blue represents harmony;

Purple represents spirit.

Some people believed this should be a decision that is solely left to the discretion of principals and parents based on the school culture. My concern is that leaving this decision to individual schools would cause a loss in the impact of what we were trying to do in helping to continue to create a welcome environment across the board. It leaves kids and staff at schools who may not choose to fly the flag somewhat vulnerable and wondering why it could possibly be a problem. In fact, a decision not to fly the flag and the fact that it was even part of the conversation is, to me, indicative of a lack of welcome-ness and understanding. Some also felt the flag would create confusion for some students and embolden LGBTQ students to bully other students. I have never heard of any evidence that this has occurred and doubt any exists.

Ultimately, the motion received support from the majority of trustees and it passed. I thought it was especially important to support this motion in light of recent changes to the Health and Physical Education curriculum by the provincial government which saw the erosion of LGBTQ components. As I said at the meeting, who wouldn’t be proud to fly this flag.

We also revisited the recommendations about starting International Baccalaureate programming at Margaret D. Bennie in Leamington and Glenwood Public School in Windsor. The recommendation for MDB passed easily. There was much conversation about the recommendation for Glenwood given that Massey is over-capacity. However, Glenwood is under-capacity and we have already taken action to address low capacity issues in other elementary schools, so I am not sure we should treat Glenwood any differently.

There were also comments about creating IB in a core school rather than in South Windsor. I am supportive of that in principle. I would be quite interested in exploring IB in core schools, but I also think we need an overall board plan for IB rather than going piecemeal.

Ultimately, the recommendation for Glenwood passed as well and I know staff at that school are very excited.

Our next meeting is on March 19. Hope to see you there! I wish everyone a fun and safe March Break!



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Jessica Sartori