WELCOMING, CARING, RESPECTFUL AND SAFE TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENT POLICY
Consistent with its mission and vision, the Mountain View Academy Society Board is committed to a safe, caring, respectful, inclusive, equitable, and welcoming learning and teaching environment for all students.
All students have the right to learn and work in an environment free of discrimination, prejudice, and harassment. This right is guaranteed under the
- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
- The Alberta Human Rights Act as amended March 10, 2015. In addition, the Alberta Human Rights Act, includes the right not to be discriminated against by reason of race, national origin, colour, religion, or gender identity or gender expression. Legislation also provides as a fundamental right the “right of parents to make informed decisions respecting the education of their children;” and,
- Requirements of the Alberta School Act (and upon Proclamation the Education Act, Section 35.1) that provide for measures that support the equality and non-discrimination of students who may belong to minority groups, including sexual orientation.
The Mountain View Academy Society Board will not tolerate harassment, bullying, intimidation, or discrimination on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived differences or gender identity or gender expression.
The Mountain View Academy Society Board believes that all students have the right to:
- be treated fairly, equitably, and with dignity and respect;
- have their confidentiality protected and respected;
- self-identification and determination;
- freedom of conscience, expression, and association;
- be fully included and represented in an inclusive, positive, and respectful manner by all school personnel;
- have equitable access to the same supports, services, and protections provided to heterosexual students and their families;
- have avenues of recourse (without fear of reprisal) available to them when they are victims of harassment, prejudice, discrimination, intimidation, bullying, and/or violence; and
- have their unique identities, families, cultures, and communities included, valued and respected within the school environment.
The Mountain View Academy Society Board is committed to implementing measures that will:
- define appropriate expectations, behaviours, language, and actions in order to prevent discrimination, prejudice, and harassment through greater awareness of, and responsiveness to, their harmful effects;
- ensure that all such discriminatory behaviours and complaints will be taken seriously, documented, and dealt with expeditiously and effectively through consistently applied policy and procedures;
- improve students’ understanding of the individual lives of minorities, including sexual and gender minorities, and their families, cultures, and communities; and
- develop, implement, and evaluate inclusive educational strategies, professional development opportunities, and administrative guidelines to ensure that minorities including gender minorities and their families are treated with respect and dignity in all aspects of the school community in a manner consistent with the school’s mission and vision.
The Mountain View Academy Society Board is committed to upholding the requirements set forth in Section 16.1 of the School Act:
- if one or more students attending a school operated by a board request a staff member employed by the board for support to establish a voluntary student organization, or to lead an activity intended to promote a welcoming, caring, respecting and safe learning environment that respects diversity and fosters a sense of belonging, the principal of the school shall permit the establishment of the student organization or the holding of the activity in the school and designate a staff member to serve as the staff liaison to facilitate the establishment and the ongoing operation of the student organization or to assist in organizing the activity.
- for the purposes of PART IV, an organization or activity includes an organization or activity that promotes equality and non-discrimination with respect to, without limitation, race, religious belief, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, family status or sexual orientation, including but not limited to organizations such as gay-straight alliances, diversity clubs, anti-racism clubs and anti-bullying clubs.
- the students may select a respectful and inclusive name for the organization, including the name “gay-straight alliance” or “queer-straight alliance”, after consulting with the principal;
- the principal shall immediately inform the board and the Minister if no staff member is available to serve as a staff liaison referred to in PART IV, and if so informed, the Minister shall appoint a responsible adult to work with the requesting students in organizing the activity or to facilitate the establishment, and the ongoing operation, of the student organization at the school and;
- if a staff member indicates to a principal a willingness to act as a staff liaison under PART IV then:
- (a) a principal shall not inform a board or the Minister under subsection (4) of Section 16.1 of the School Act that no staff member is available to serve as a staff liaison, and
- (b) that staff member shall be deemed to be available to serve as the staff liaison.
When implementing the above policy directions, the Mountain View Academy Society Board will act reasonably in the best interests of the student in keeping with the guidelines outlined by the Supreme Court of Canada.
DEALING WITH CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS IN THE CLASSROOM
Section 11.1 of the Alberta Human Rights Act comes into effect September 1, 2010, affirming in law a parent’s ability to have their child excluded, without academic penalty, from instruction, exercises, and the use of instructional materials that deal primarily and explicitly with religion, sexuality, or sexual orientation. The implementation of this new legislation requires that school boards notify parents when students will be receiving instruction that includes subject matter that deals primarily and explicitly with religion, human sexuality or sexual orientation, allowing the opportunity for a parent to have their child opt out. In such cases when a child is exempted from programming under Section 11.1, the child may either: a) leave the classroom or place where the instruction is taking place or where the instructional material being used for the duration of that part of the instruction; or b) remain in the classroom or place where the instruction is taking place without taking part in the instruction or use of instructional material. The Guide to Education for the 2010-2011 school year contains information on the required notification and is posted at http://education.alberta.ca/admin/resources/guidetoed.aspx. Information on notification and curriculum implications, as well as questions and answers for parents and the public is available on the Alberta Education website at http://education.alberta.ca/parents/role.aspx.
When in doubt, teachers should always inform parents of any controversial topics that might be covered within the curriculum and provide an opportunity for feedback from the parent. Alternative work should be available should either the parent or student request exemption.