by Morinville News Staff

School boards have a new resource to assist school boards in drafting policies to support welcoming, caring, respectful and safe schools.

Alberta Education’s Guidelines for Best Practices: Creating Learning Environments that Respect Diverse Sexual Orientations, Gender Expressions and Gender Identities “will assist school authorities when addressing the needs of individuals with diverse sexual orientations, gender expressions, and gender identities,” the government said in a release Wednesday.

The guidelines reflect recent policy shifts in the Alberta Human Rights Act, Alberta Bill of Rights and provincial School Act. The province says the guidelines show what learning environments look like that respect diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.

“We have pledged to support school boards, as they are required to provide their policies for welcoming, caring, respectful and safe schools by the end of March, said Education Minister David Eggen in Wednesday’s release. “These guidelines are designed to aid boards in meeting this requirement. I am confident that all will act in the best interest of their students, their families and staff. Together, we can spur real change and what better place to do so than right in Alberta’s classrooms.”

Content created by the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development was the basis for the Alberta version, and Alberta Education staff sought feedback from a range of experts in the province.

Minister Eggen directed all school boards last November to share these policies by March 31, 2016. As part of the review, school boards must show evidence of having policy and regulations or procedures related specifically to their obligations under the School Act.

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