Chilliwack teachers, and indeed all of us who work in the K–12 public school system across the province, have a professional duty to uphold the BC Human Rights Code. At the same time, school districts have the obligation to foster and maintain an inclusive and discrimination-free environment for students, their families, and staff.
Last week, all B.C. education partner groups affirmed this responsibility in a joint statement. Organizations representing teachers, principals and vice-principals, school superintendents, school trustees, parents and all other partner groups along with the Minister of Education, spoke in a unified voice against the bigotry and misinformation being spread by some trustee candidates, and in support of our efforts to ensure safe and inclusive schools for LGBTQ youth and their families.
There are times when the values taught at home may come into conflict with what is taught in a secular, non-sectarian public education system. This has always been the case, and it is to be expected. But our responsibility as teachers is to err on the side of inclusion and non-discrimination.
Public schools in B.C. open their doors to all, no exceptions. The Chilliwack Teachers’ Association strives to make sure our schools are safe, inclusive, and welcoming for all children, youth, and families. As a union, we also have the duty to support our members, your children’s teachers, in their right to a safe and discrimination-free workplace. We are proud to do this work.
We hope that voters in Chilliwack will look beyond the overheated rhetoric and see, as teachers do, the faces of children and youth who yearn to be safe at school, to be accepted for who they are, and to have the right to learn alongside their peers. They deserve nothing less.
Ed Klettke, President, CTA
Glen Hansman, President, BCTF