P.E.I. school board trustee Patty van Diepen resigns
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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — Lower than six months after being elected, Zone 7 faculty board trustee Patty van Diepen has resigned.
Public Colleges Department board chair Heather Mullen confirmed to SaltWire van Diepen submitted a resignation letter on Could 2. In consequence, residents of Zone 7 shall be voting for a brand new trustee in a byelection.
There’s not but a date for a byelection.
Zone 7 consists of Mount Stewart Consolidated, Morell Regional Excessive, Morell Consolidated and Souris Regional faculties.
Final fall’s public faculties department elections noticed low voter turnout with lower than 4 per cent of eligible voters casting a poll.
Van Diepen received in Zone 7 after capturing 109 of 228 whole votes.
Resignation over trustee limits
In an interview with SaltWire, van Diepen mentioned she resigned from the place due to the bounds of trustee jurisdiction.
Trustees do not need a say within the growth of the college curriculum nor of Division of Schooling ministerial directives.
Van Diepen mentioned this meant she couldn’t handle considerations she heard from mother and father concerning the province’s tips for respecting and accommodating gender identification, gender expression and sexual orientation.
“Dad and mom simply felt … that their major and inherent proper as mother and father, to be the prime decision-maker for his or her youngsters, they felt that wasn’t being totally revered by the general public faculty system,” mentioned van Diepen.
“Dad and mom simply felt … that their major and inherent proper as mother and father, to be the prime decision-maker for his or her youngsters, they felt that wasn’t being totally revered by the general public faculty system.” – Patty van Diepen
The rules, which had been formalized by a ministerial directive in December 2021, are supposed to help inclusion and anti-bullying insurance policies within the Public Colleges Department.
They set out finest practices for protected studying environments for college kids with various gender identities and/or sexual orientations.
These embrace recommendations round educating college students on sexual and gender range, finest practices of inclusion at school sports activities, offering protected entry to washrooms and decreasing the separation of scholars by gender for classroom actions.
The rules observe 2SLGBTQI youth usually tend to be targets of bullying and harassment in faculties. An October 2022 Statistics Canada study of bullying additionally discovered 77 per cent of sexually and gender-diverse teenagers skilled bullying.
Van Diepen mentioned she didn’t run for trustee as a single-issue candidate.
However the controversy surrounding her previous statements concerning the gender identification tips prompted mother and father to achieve out to her.
“Dad and mom have sought me out to convey their considerations about what is going on on,” van Diepen mentioned.
Van Diepen mentioned she was not conscious, previous to being elected, that trustees didn’t have jurisdiction over questions of curriculum or of Division of Schooling directives.
“I did not totally understand that. If you received in there, you’d assume that each one issues faculty, you’d be capable to discuss. However that is not the way it’s arrange,” she mentioned.
Public Colleges Department
In an e mail, Public Colleges Department director Norbert Carpenter mentioned the province’s faculties are dedicated to a protected studying setting for all college students. He mentioned the rules supported the human rights of scholars with various gender identities, gender expression and sexual orientation.
Carpenter additionally mentioned there was confusion concerning the tips and mentioned related insurance policies have been put in place in all different provinces.
“The rules should not a program for college kids or a curriculum. They’re there to offer help to reply to a scholar’s particular person wants whereas respecting an individual’s proper to self-identification,” he mentioned.
Criticisms Dangerous: P.E.I. Transgender Community
Fortunate Fusca, govt director of the P.E.I. Transgender Community, hears from college students experiencing bullying within the faculty system.
Fusca believed van Diepen’s criticisms of the gender identification tips are dangerous and that the rules are essential to assist set up a protected setting for 2SLGBTQI youth.
Fusca mentioned they weren’t stunned mother and father sought out van Diepen after she was elected as a trustee.
“If there are mother and father on the market who aren’t in settlement with the gender range tips, in realizing that this individual carries a place of affect and energy within the system, in fact they’d go to her considering that she may do one thing about it,” Fusca mentioned.
The federal government ought to play a task in guaranteeing future faculty board candidates are “in alignment with the Constitution of Rights and Freedoms,” mentioned Fusca.
Previous to van Diepen’s election, the P.E.I. Transgender Community had known as for her to step down as a candidate, partly as a result of a letter the previous trustee had penned within the Japanese Graphic, which decried “gender fluidity language” within the faculty system.
Fusca mentioned van Diepen’s resignation validated this name.
“If her intentions had been to work within the Public College Board inside the duties that they can … then she would have stayed to proceed that dedication,” Fusca mentioned.
Stu Neatby is a political reporter with SaltWire in Prince Edward Island. He will be reached by e mail at [email protected] and adopted on Twitter @stu_neatby.