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Valuing Voices

Valuing Voices
Posted on 06/25/2019
Valuing Voices

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board is committed to providing an equitable and inclusive learning space for all students to support their academic success and well-being. 

One of the things we have learned from our students and families is that individual identities matter to their sense of well-being, safety and engagement. Children engage better in their own learning when they see themselves reflected in the curriculum.  

The OCDSB has recently hosted a series of focus group meetings with students, parents, families and community partners to better understand the role that identity plays in the lives of our students and where there are systemic barriers and biases. The stories shared about our students’ lived experiences highlighted the need for us to create spaces of belonging and reinforced the need for continued progress.

This includes ensuring a space for students who are on their transition journey to align their gender identity and gender expression. An essential part of this work is knowing the unique needs of our students who are on this transition journey. They tell us this is a scary and isolating journey and some have experienced physical and emotional harm within and outside our schools.   

It is our duty to accommodate the needs and rights of our students. To ensure this, they see themselves included in our schools, the OCDSB has:

  • An equity and inclusive education policy that is grounded in honouring the human rights and dignity of all persons and commits to reducing barriers that impact equity of access and opportunity for all students;
  • Religious Accommodation Policy
  • A Guide to support administrators and educators on Gender Identity and Gender Expression.  This Guide is one of the leading resource tools that is recognized in the province to support students and to address experiences of transphobia;
  • Bundles of resources have been provided to educators to support their classroom instruction through our Stories of Identity Collection regarding the immigrant and refugee experience; and
  • Student voice spaces for Indigenous Students, Black Student  and students from 2SGLBTTQ+ communities.

As we embrace all aspects of our students’ identities, we recognize that there may be competing human rights and as such, we defer in our human rights and social justice work to honour the process outlined by the Human Rights Commission on Competing Human Rights. 

In the fall of November 2019, as part of our commitment to equity and the identification and elimination of systemic barriers and bias, the OCDSB will begin collecting identity-based data from all students.  The data collection process is grounded in the legal authority of the Anti Racism Act, 2017 and a data standards framework  for school boards in Ontario. 

Our ongoing work in this area is a demonstration of our commitment to creating a culture of caring and social responsibility - to support the needs of our staff, students and community. 

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