Dear Premier Silver, Mr. Dixon and Ms. White,
We are writing to express our conditional support for Bill 304, the Act to Amend the Education Act also known as the "Safe Spaces" Bill.
This bill is an important gesture of support for 2SLGBTQIA+ young people in the territory. At a time when young people in Yukon are experiencing a mental health crisis and 2SLGBTQIA+ youth are under attack globally, we believe it is urgent for young Two Spirit, queer, trans and questioning Yukoners to be shown that they are valid and valued by their government, their schools, and their community. Legislation such as this bill is one piece of the puzzle, and passing the Safe Spaces bill would give desperately-needed hope to young queer, trans and questioning students and their peers.
However, passing the bill is not enough. It must be implemented in a way that prioritizes the safety and wellbeing of 2SLGBTQIA+ students. We call on all parties to ensure the law and accompanying policy support and require schools to make all reasonable efforts to ensure the activities are a helpful and constructive presence that promotes a positive sense of self, rather than causes harm. This must include proper training and adequate resources for mentors and facilitators; no tolerance for homophobia, transphobia, or other discrimination on the part of responsible adults; a safe and confidential process for students to raise concerns about the activities or responsible adult, if needed; and consideration given to maintain absolute privacy and not out any student, or share students’ participation with parents/guardians. Nor should any mentor, such as a teacher, be outed without their full consent.
Finally, while our schools must be made safe for students, we believe they cannot be the only source of support for 2SLGBTQIA+ young people. We are glad to see that the current wording of the bill makes space for student-led initiatives, and we hope the final law and accompanying policy will continue to make it clear that student-led and third-party activities must not be infringed, even as the schools' role is strengthened.
Dr. Mona Luxion (they/them)
President, Board of Directors
On behalf of the Queer Yukon Society
About queer yukon society
Queer Yukon Society supports, promotes, and organizes events for the LGBTQ2S+ community and our allies in Whitehorse, Yukon. Officially incorporated in 2018, Queer Yukon has been organizing Yukon Pride since 2013, as well as many other events to bring together LGBTQ2S+ and allied Yukoners to build a strong and vibrant community.