Unanimous adoption of the new student anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policy was greeted with applause by people in the audience at final meeting of the current Langley Board of Education on Oct. 28.
A lengthy consultation process was undertaken by district staff to update and edit the former policies that addressed discrimination and harassment in schools.
The new policy carries specific language around the LGBTQ community in Langley schools, and the inclusive nature of the document is meant to protect all students.
“These changes will better all students,” said Trustee Megan Dykeman.
“I spoke to students about this and they tell it like it is.
“This policy seemed consistent with students’ concerns,” said Trustee Rob McFarlane.
“Students wanted LGBTQ embedded in the policy, not as a standalone policy,” said Trustee Alison McVeigh.
“All students and staff deserve a safe environment to work and learn in.”
While the policy doesn’t outline what consequences students and staff will face if they do discriminate or harass, it sends a message that quick action will be taken.
A former Walnut Grove Secondary student spoke out last month about the homophobic bullying he faced at school in the late 1990s both by students and some teachers.
Erik Denison, who went on to become an award-winning journalist working for CBC and now is an entrepreneur living in Australia, said a recent visit to Langley showed him that education is still needed among students about homophobic slurs.
Assistant superintendent Claire Guy, who worked on creating the policy over the past two years, said the key component moving forward is educating everyone about inclusiveness and acceptance, not tolerance in schools.