The Upper Canada District School Board remains committed to ensuring that our students who self-identify as members of the two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual/2SLGBTQIA+ community feel supported and contribute to making our schools and communities safe spaces for everyone. Brockville Collegiate Institute student Kai Flicker is committed to these outcomes.
The Grade 11 student spoke with the UCDSB about how the school communities can continue its work to stand up to bullying and work toward equity and acceptance.
“Nobody is asking you to understand the trans or binary experience, but to allow us to have a space,” Kai said, adding that queer people of colour have some of the highest suicide rates and it’s an issue that needs to be addressed. “To ignore that unique struggle is to contribute to it.”
Kai’s voice connects with last week’s recognition of the International Day of Pink. The key message of the International Day of Pink, which is celebrated the second Wednesday of each April, brings awareness to how discrimination takes many shapes – whether it’s based on race, age, disabilities, gender or sexuality – and this recognition day urges individuals around the world to put on a pink shirt and stand in solidarity with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to continue to fight for equality and acceptance. Even if it means getting uncomfortable.
“In spaces where people like us don’t make up half of the student body, it falls on the shoulders of educators to bring these topics to the table,” said Kai. “While I understand that full blown activism may be uncomfortable for people in places of privilege, even doing so much as introducing the concept of implicit bias has an impact on your students.”
The UCDSB is committed to an equitable education system that upholds and reflects the principles of fair and inclusive education, which should permeate all policies, programs, practices, and operations. The school board recognizes that it must engage with communities that have not been historically honoured by the education system in order to truly prepare all students for the successful life they deserve.
As the UCDSB continues to integrate its value of equity and inclusion into its programming, supports and resources, UCDSB Director Stephen Sliwa said that it’s imperative to listen to students in order to learn, grow and make change.
“Our 2SLGBTQIA+ community’s priorities about safety and support are important elements to the UCDSB family. We want to support our students and we accomplish this by engaging in the difficult and often complex conversations, at home, at work, and in our classes to address the disparities in our communities,” said Sliwa. “We must continue our own work to ensure that every student within our schools feels heard and included, and we must challenge ourselves, at every level of our organization, to confront our own biases and blind spots.”
Hear Kai’s powerful message in its entirety on the UCDSB YouTube Channel.
The UCDSB wants to remind students, parents, guardians and community members that should you or someone you know be in crisis or simply need to talk, Kids Help Phone is a 24/7 free confidential professional online and telephone counselling and text-based support in English and French.