Red Deer school board won’t reconsider decision to reject Pride proposal for ‘Diversity Week’

CBC Edmonton and CBC Calgary have teamed up to launch a pop-up Red Deer bureau to help us tell your stories from central Alberta. Reporter Heather Marcoux will bring you the news from Red Deer and the surrounding area. Story ideas and tips can be sent to heather.marcoux@cbc.ca.

The Red Deer Public School Division’s (RDPSD) board of trustees says it will not reconsider its decision to offer a “Diversity Week” instead of Pride Week. 

The RDPSD board confirmed its decision in a statement to CBC News Wednesday. 

The Central Alberta Pride Society and other community groups spoke before the trustees in a portion of Wednesday’s school board meeting that was closed to the public. 

Shannon Humphrey of the Central Alberta Pride Society asked the trustees to recognize the first week of June as Pride Week, an idea originally floated by trustee Dianne Macaulay’s last month. 

Macaulay’s motion was struck down, as all but two of the board of trustees voted to reject Pride Week and establish Diversity Week instead. 

The concept of Diversity Week was met with criticism from some community members, and prompted a week-long protest outside the school division office. 

‘Diversity Week is not a replacement for pride’

Humphrey told the board that the Central Alberta Pride Society is not against the concept of a diversity week and supports the many specific kinds of diversity recognized on specific days during the school year, and asked the trustees to consider the message sent to students in Red Deer’s public schools in the rejection of pride week. 

Shannon Humphrey of the Central Alberta Pride Society asked the school board to reconsider the motion for Pride Week. (Submitted by Shannon Humphrey )

“By failing to recognize an official pride week or even a pride day, you are inadvertently telling those students that they are not worthy of being celebrated, recognized, or uplifted,” Humphrey said.

Reaffirmed Diversity Week

In a statement emailed to CBC News on Wednesday the RDPSD board of trustees “reaffirmed its unequivocal support and commitment to LGBTQ+ students, staff and families.” 

The board said it “heard four presentations from individuals requesting to share perspectives” on Wednesday, but has not confirmed who the presenters were. Humphrey’s group, the Central Alberta Pride Society, only saw its own presentation. 

“Following those presentations and discussion among trustees, the board reaffirmed its commitment to have a Diversity Week. The Board will not reconsider its decision on Pride Week,” the board said in its statement. 

Individual schools can have pride events 

The RDPSD board’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy allows for individual schools in the district to host their own pride events. According to the statement emailed to CBC on behalf of  Red Deer Public Schools, some schools are making plans to have Pride events this school year. 

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