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Welcoming, Caring, Respectful and Safe Learning Environment: Inclusive Practices

Background

The Division is committed to providing a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning and working environment that respects diversity and fosters a sense of belonging. Each student and staff member within the Division has the right to learn and work in facilities that promote equality of opportunity, dignity and respect.  The Division is also obligated to protect all students from harassment, discrimination, and violence or threat thereof during the Division’s school-related activities. All those involved with the Division including employees, students, parents, volunteers, contractors and visitors must share in the responsibility for eliminating bullying, discrimination, harassment, and violence. The Division prohibits bullying, harassment, discriminatory, and violent behaviors and expects allegations of such behaviors to be investigated in a timely and respectful manner.

Inclusion and a sense of belonging for all students and staff – those from diverse backgrounds, those with learning challenges, those who excel academically or on the sports field, those of different colour, race, sexual orientation or beliefs, stems from creating an environment that focuses on our right to learn, not on the things that make us different, and allow students and staff to focus on their individual success.

The Division acknowledges its responsibility to ensure welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments for all students and staff. It recognizes the importance of students’ and staffs’ emotional, social, intellectual and physical wellness to their success in school and expects students to adhere to the Division Code of Conduct and schools’ codes of conduct.

To have high quality education for all, it is critical that our education system is equitable and inclusive. This means that each and every student, including those who self-identify as Aboriginals, those of minority cultures in Canada, those with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions, has the educational opportunities and supports needed to be successful in school, and in life.

The Division expects all employees, students, parents, volunteers, visitors, and contractors to embrace and support this administrative procedure.

Procedures

  1. The Division encourages reporting to a responsible adult all incidents of threats, bullying, harassment, violence or intimidation regardless of the identity of the alleged harasser or offender. 
  2. The Division supports the establishment of student organizations and student- led activities that promote equality and non-discrimination, including but not limited to gay-straight alliances, queer-straight alliances, diversity clubs, anti-racism clubs, and anti-bullying clubs. 
  3. Creating an education system that is truly inclusive requires all schools to identify and implement evidence-based strategies that ensure the safety, belonging and full participation of all members of the school community.
  4. Inclusive practices for supporting students and staff are consistently identified as effective and appropriate in the creation of learning environments that are welcoming, caring, respectful and safe for students, staff, families and all other members of the school community.
  5. Inclusive practices include:
    1. Providing supports that respond to a student’s individual needs.
    2. Defining appropriate expectations, behaviors, language and actions in order to prevent discrimination, prejudice and harassment through greater awareness of, and responsiveness to their harmful effects.
    3. Ensuring that discriminatory behaviors and complaints are taken seriously, documented and dealt with expeditiously.
    4. Respecting an individual’s right to self-identification.
      1. Excepting in the case of independent students or in situations where disclosure to parents may pose a safety risk to the child, Principals are to contact parents when a child requests a gender identity change.
    5. Maintaining school records in a way that respects privacy and confidentiality.
      1. When so requested by parents or by an independent student, the student’s official record is to be changed to reflect their preferred name or gender; all school forms and records will be congruent.
    6. Ensuring dress codes respect an individual’s culture, gender identity and gender expression.
    7. Minimizing gender-segregated curricular activities.
      1. Where segregation by gender occurs, all students are to be given the option to be included in the group that corresponds to their gender identity.
    8. Enabling all students to have full, safe and equitable opportunities for participation in curricular and extra-curricular activities.
      1. When necessary, the Principal will make the final decision with regard to student participation in athletic activities.
    9. Providing safe access to washroom and change-room facilities.
      1. Individual solutions to washroom access are to be implemented with respect and discretion, in ways which demonstrate sensitivity to the needs and safety of all students; allowing for appropriate privacy in a manner that does not significantly disrupt the school environment.
      2. In change rooms that require undressing in front of others, students who desire increased privacy for any reason (medical, religious, cultural, gender identity) shall be provided with accommodations that best meet their individual needs and privacy concerns, subject to safety considerations and in a manner that does not significantly disrupt the school environment.
    10. Providing professional learning opportunities that build the capacity of staff to better support all students in building healthy relationships with others, value diversity and demonstrate respect, empathy and compassion.
    11. Using a comprehensive whole-school approach to promote healthy relationships and prevent and respond to bullying behaviour.
    12. Ensuring students have the understanding, skills and opportunities to contribute to welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments that respect diversity and nurture a sense of belonging and a positive sense of self.
    13. Ensuring all families are welcomed and supported as valued members of the school community.
    14. Ensuring that school staff have work environments where they are protected from discrimination based on their colour, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or beliefs.
  6. These inclusive practices are mutually supportive and interdependent.
  7. The Principal shall ensure that the resolution of any conflict involves reasonable accommodation and inclusiveness.
  8. This procedure covers behavior not only at Division schools, but also at any school-related functions. This applies whether contact is face-to-face, by phone, fax, e-mail, Internet or Intranet, or by any other means of communication and includes but is not limited to threatening, harassing, intimidating, assaulting or bullying, in any way, any person within the school community including aggressive behaviors such as “cyber” hate messaging and websites created in the student’s home, in cyber cafes or other settings.
  9. Learning environments and school communities will continue to evolve; inclusive practices may also change and evolve.

References:

Section 12, 16, 18, 20, 23, 24, 25, 30, 45, 50, 60, 61, 96, 105, 113, 116, 117 School Act

                        Alberta Bill of Rights

Alberta Human Rights Act

Ministerial Order on Student Learning 001/2013

Occupational Health and Safety Act

Guide to Education ECS to Grade 12

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Teaching Profession Act

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report

Guidelines for Best Practices: Creating Learning Environments that Respect Diverse Sexual Orientation, Gender Identities and Gender Expressions

Criminal Code

Vital Statistics Act

 

Reviewed February 2017