A candidate in the upcoming Chilliwack school board byelection has spoken up regarding a violent bullying incident against a young transgender student.
Adam Suleman sent out a message saying “school districts have a responsibility to ensure that bullying incidents, such as this one, do not continue.”
He is referring to an incident that took place at a middle school in Mission Jan. 11, in which two Grade 8 girls punched and kicked another girl while she was on the ground. The incident was recorded and shared online.
“Kick her in the head!” one onlooker yells in the video.
Earlier today, RCMP announced charges have been sent to Crown Counsel for the two attackers, who have been arrested.
Suleman, who is currently a student at SFU and graduated from the Chilliwack School District, called the incident “upsetting and inappropriate.”
He said school districts should be “facilitating programs that foster unity and respect for each other and that focus on improved mental health support for students.
“In my eight-year career as a mental health advocate, I have experienced, observed, and learned about the devastating and life-long impacts of bullying on students and their families, he added. “As a visible minority, I know how it feels to be singled out due to stereotypes and misunderstandings surrounding people that look like me. This is one reason that I am running in the upcoming Chilliwack School Board by-election and I have made this area for improvement a priority on my platform.”
He said the incident serves two reminders for school districts.
“First, it is essential that school districts reinforce the continuous process of pluralism in which people can embrace their differences as a strength,” he suggested. “Second, there is value in utilizing resources that facilitate the acceptance and tolerance of others such as members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“No one deserves to be physically assaulted due to their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, mental or physical ability, faith, or socioeconomic level. Students should always expect that their personal spaces are respected by their peers, but especially right now with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Those responsible for physically assaulting the student in this incident must be held accountable for their abhorrent actions.”
RCMP have said they are not finished investigating the incident, and the family has said the bullying has been taking place for months.
“I send my thoughts and best wishes for recovery and healing to the student and to their family.”
-with files from Patrick Penner, Mission City Record
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