BSD will ‘learn from’ Maryland Park incident: Statement

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The Brandon School Division says it will use last week’s incident at Maryland Park School as a learning experience to cultivate spaces free of discrimination moving forward.

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The Brandon School Division says it will use last week’s incident at Maryland Park School as a learning experience to cultivate spaces free of discrimination moving forward.

Last week, posters around the school promoting a Pride day as part of a “spirit week” were edited to remove both the word “pride” and reference to the school’s LGBTQ+ community.

In a statement to the Sun last week, principal Barbara Miller said “Given the complexity of topics associated with a Pride Walk, the curricular connection to potentially sensitive content within the Health Curriculum, and to respect and support the many perspectives that people have, parents have been given the option to choose which learning activity is most appropriate for their child for that portion of the afternoon.”

File Maryland Park School.

A parent at the school told the Sun that it appeared there was a tug-of-war that parents opposed to Pride events had won, while Brandon Pride chairperson Kenneth Jackson expressed concern that this sent a negative message to LGBTQ+ students.

The division’s statement issued Wednesday said the board of trustees and senior administration are affirming their commitment “to ensuring a learning environment that is free from discriminatory practices based on any individual’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression.”

Though the specifics of what happened and why the event was modified were not mentioned, the statement also reads: “We understand and recognize the concerns raised regarding inconsistency in the communication around recent activities at Maryland Park School; we will learn from this experience.”

Reached for comment on Wednesday, Jackson said he appreciated that the division had recognized its mistake and expressed hope that it would work on fostering a more welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ students.

“I’m glad that they have issued a statement,” Jackson said. “I had hoped it might be a little quicker coming, but it’s still an important gesture … I really do hope the school division follows through on implementing change. Unfortunately, the 2STLGBTQIA+ community have from time to time heard kind words, but it’s not always followed up by action or change.”

He also would have liked to have seen more of an explanation of what went wrong in this case, especially since there were people making negative comments toward the local queer community both on social media and through the Sun’s Sound Off section in the aftermath.

“I think way too often we see negative comments come lack that where a whole of a story hasn’t been told and I wonder if that would change people’s opinions,” Jackson said.

Going forward, Jackson said he would be glad to see BSD offer training on LGBTQ+ topics to staff in a similar model to truth and reconciliation training adopted in recent years.

The Sun also received comment on the statement from the same parent of a child at Maryland Park School who expressed concern last week. They are not being named due to privacy concerns.

“It’s got a lot of nice statements but lacks any measurable outcomes or tangible items/events and a plan to ensure that they are following their own policies,” the parent wrote. “No mention of further training for staff and admin.”

The Sun contacted the school division with followup questions regarding last week’s incident and the issued statement, but no representative was made available for comment.

» cslark@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @ColinSlark

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