Vancouver School Board trustees have adopted a controversial update to school policy that will provide supports for transgender students.
After a lively debate packed with parents, both for and against the motion, all but two trustees voted in favour of the policy, amid shouts from the crowd and despite calls for more consultation.
The policy update will allow students to be addressed by the name that corresponds with their own gender identity. It will also allow transgender students to use the washroom of their choice.
Vancouver School Board chair Patti Bacchus says the consultation process for this motion was unprecedented.
"We heard personal stories from families about how important it was for their children to be supported. We heard from youth that had not been supported in their experience and how difficult that was," said Bacchus.
"We heard research that tells us students who are transgender, who are not well supported, are at disproportionate risk of suicide, self harm and dropping out of school."
Speaking ahead of the vote, Bacchus said the policy change was a necessary step forward.
"We need to do this," says Bacchus. "There's research that suggests when LGBT kids are supported at school, it actually lowers high-risk behaviours for all students."
Bacchus says the changes would also help combat the bias and discrimination faced by transgender students.
Long-serving school trustees Ken Denike and Sophia Woo voted against the measure, supported by opponents who say the policy is not in line with traditional values, with some even worrying it might affect the value of their real estate.
Last week, the Non-Partisan Association expelled Denike and Woo from its caucus after the pair held a news conference calling for a delay to the planned revisions to the school board's gender identity policy.
At the news conference, the pair told reporters that real estate agents were concerned about the policy's potential negative impact on the enrolment of international students, saying this could lower the values of properties in the city's West Side.
Bacchus said the two are not focused on the needs of students.
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