39Reasons: Reason#16 SOGI

This story is among the #39Reasons I am running as a Trustee for Vancouver School Board (VSB). Each story is based on my experience working at the VSB for over 7 years with CUPE and PASA.

He struts in, looking taller than I remember him from last week

It’s his heels, 2” from the floor, fully studded and reaching seamlessly into his glossy black skinny jeans

His denim vest radiates style from another era and his confidence and pride emanates as boldly as the smoky black eye liner and earrings dangling through his long hair

“I want to volunteer, Jennifer”

So we sat down at the long table, logged in and began sifted through the postings on the web and found a couple that caught his interest, but not enough to apply

He kept his eyes focused on the screen, but I could tell that he wasn’t really looking at the postings

I asked him, “how was your day, what else is on your mind?

He began to share how his family recently welcomed his brother’s girlfriend into their home and how excited they were to meet her

He proceeded to tell me that his family teases him about when he will bring his girlfriend home

He paused, looked past me and said that he’s already told them he’s not into girls

“They know, but they won’t say it, it’s the elephant in the room at our house so I just stopped trying”

I listened and we talked

It was important that he could identify spaces where he can be his full self – he mentioned that his high school and after-school clubs were okay sometimes, but in preparation for home-time, the heels come off, the liner is wiped away and the earrings are placed in their case

It was important for him that he had a safe place to be

School was a place where he found educators who he could talk to in English or his mother tongue, if he chose, they didn’t stop to question his identity not like at home

Jo’s experience reminds us that schools are meant to be safe and inclusive spaces for all young people

SOGI is a tool that can help us create this environment at all of our schools – it gives us the chance to continue building safe and inclusive spaces for all of our students, we have a choice to resource it and allow it to positively influence the safety of our schools and our students. It's easy to show your support for a properly resourced SOGI policy and implementation in all Vancouver School Board schools. 

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  • Jennifer Reddy