Laine Brehaut is one of the many parents who have posted online and written letters to the Directorate of Public Schools about what their children have been through. Brehaut’s child goes to school and identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community. She said her child was excited when Pride Day was due, but disappointed with the actions of some of the children at school.
According to Brehaut, some students, dressed in black, harassed their classmates, asking them if they supported members of the LGBTQ community. If they did, those students were intimidated, Brehaut said.
“They came home at the end of the day feeling unsafe and disappointed,” Brehaut said of her own child.
The events of the past week have been difficult for so many Islanders.
I call on all of us today – and every day – to stand up for the rights of every individual and to speak out against intolerance and discrimination of all kinds.
We must do better. pic.twitter.com/eZL1MLFChq
Sharon Duncan’s daughter is an ally of the LGBTQ community. Duncan said her daughter came home from school and told her some of her friends were forced to change colorful clothes by other students.
“She’s seen girls cry,” Duncan said. “She heard other friends say they didn’t feel comfortable for the next Pride Day, or the next day supporting even wearing Pride clothing and the Pride colors. “
Neither Duncan nor Brehaut said they were surprised this was happening at school. Their children have told them about bullying in the past.
Brehaut said schools can better tackle this type of bullying. There is an inclusion policy, but Brehaut believes it is not often used or referenced.
“This inclusion policy… has been available online and has been part of their mandate for a very long time, but in the eight years that my children have been in school, there has been very little support for this community. More must be done.
Brehaut said she wanted the school administration and staff to send a clear message about why it is wrong to judge those who are part of or support the LGBTQ community.
Norbert Carpenter, the director of the public schools branch, said the pride event was hosted by the student council and approved by the school administration.
“Unfortunately, we receive testimonies of behaviors, very inappropriate behaviors, of students who seem to have organized themselves via social networks.
“We believe it is our responsibility to educate and learn from this event. “
The events in East Wiltshire are under investigation and those who engage in harmful activities will be dealt with appropriately, he said.
The Safe and Caring Learning Environments policy is broad in scope, but it defines the accountability of students and staff, Carpenter said.
“It talks about discipline in politics and this is the politics that we will use,” he said. “We don’t know if harsh consequences, like sending people home for an extended period, would be the answer in this case. “
Carpenter said he wanted to make sure all students feel safe and that further action will be taken if the education of those who have done wrong doesn’t work.
Dave Stewart, an LGBTQ rights activist, said the problem “is the damage this has caused to one of the queer students at the school.”
Stewart didn’t talk about being gay when he was growing up and going to school in Prince Edward Island. He said he hid it.
“It makes me really angry to feel this again. When I read the post… it was like, bam, I was back to school trying to be invisible, and you know nobody wants to be invisible. “
If children feel they have no place in school, they could find themselves unwelcome in the province where they live, he said.
Carpenter said staff told students that attending the Pride Day was not mandatory, but that respect for other event attendees was.
Counselors will be available at the school on Monday to support students who feel they have been negatively affected, Carpenter said.
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