Vancouver School Board trustees approved a controversial policy that allows students to use the washroom and the gender pronoun of their choice, after a rowdy meeting that saw parents who support the policy square off against those who oppose it.
The vote passed with seven votes. Only two trustees – Sophia Woo and Ken Denike – voted against it.
Roughly 100 residents packed the small room where the meeting was held. Many of them wore bright colours and carried rainbow flags. Others held signs bearing slogans such as “education not indoctrination” and “due process is needed from VSB.”
VSB chair Patti Bacchus threatened several times to have security remove disruptive audience members from the room.
Ms. Woo tabled a motion asking for a lengthier consultation process, but it was defeated seven votes to two.
Ms. Woo, along with fellow trustee Mr. Denike, were expelled from the Non-Partisan Association caucus on Friday after holding a press conference calling for the policy to be delayed.
Outside the meeting, families of transgendered youth expressed relief, saying the policy will provide support for students who are experiencing confusion about their gender identity.
Jane Duff, who has a transgender child, said the policy will help youth who are questioning their identity but may be afraid to voice their feelings.
“It’s unbelievable that so much commotion has been created around this,” said Ms. Duff.
“I’m relieved and I’m happy, not only for us but for the many voiceless kids at school who need to have that environment of support.”
Cormac O’Dwyer, a recent graduate of Lord Bing Secondary School, decided to come out as a boy when he was 13 years old.
“I didn’t want to have to hide who I was and I wanted to continue at the school that I was in,” Cormac said.
“The environment was really respectful of that and really accommodating of that but the teachers and staff just didn’t know how to go about doing it. This policy writes down exactly what they needed to know seven years ago.”
But Henry, a parent of who did not want to provide his last name, said the policy could allow young children to make decisions that they will later regret.
“For a five- or six-year-old, how do they judge whether they are a girl or a boy?” said Henry. “They cannot.”