Palliser seeks additional legal advice on Safe and Caring draft policy

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The Board of Trustees of Palliser Regional Schools will ask the province for an extension of the March deadline to submit its policy in relation to provincial legislation which adds sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to the Alberta Bill of Rights.

The motion was approved at a regular board meeting Tuesday. That came after separate motions were approved to seek further legal advice on incorporating parental and religious rights in the draft policy. There were concerns any possible revisions and subsequent requests for public feedback might not be complete before Alberta Education’s March 31st deadline for submitting policies related to the legislation.

The board introduced its draft policy, “Safe and Caring Learning Environments,” at its February meeting and invited input from stakeholders including school councils and public.

The draft policy is designed to protect students and staff against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender and physical or mental disability.

Given the differing opinions on Bill 10 and Alberta Education’s “Guidelines for Best Practices: Creating Learning Environments that Respect Diverse Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Gender Expressions,” the board emphasized it was only seeking input on its draft policy.

Pat Rivard, Associate Superintendent Education Services, provided the board with a review of the feedback received since the draft was tabled.

He said of the 50 letters which were received, there was general support of the draft “Safe and Caring Learning Environments” policy but many individuals expressed concern with the province’s published guidelines, which are not part of the legislation. The majority of the concerns received by Palliser revolved around the issue of parental rights, he said.

The board discussed the importance of working with parents to support students, while acknowledging there may be rare instances when the situation at home could put the child’s safety at risk.

In addition to the 50 letters, Rivard said Central Office received four phone calls on the draft policy. He also spoke personally with a group of student leaders on their thoughts about the policy. Another 200 letters received by one trustee were shared with the board Tuesday as well.

To view the draft policy go to