Sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI)
Our division is committed to providing students and staff with a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning and working environment. We believe that an effective inclusive environment must be free from discrimination based on the protected grounds of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religious beliefs, gender, age, physical disability, mental disability, marital status, family status, source of income, sexual orientation and gender identity. We believe this will enable students to become life-long learners, confident and capable of shaping their futures and meeting the challenges of today and tomorrow.
Gay-straight alliances (GSAs) are peer support networks run by students and supported by school staff, grounded in the principles of promoting:
- equity for sexual and gender minority students;
- safe, caring and inclusive spaces for all students; and
- healthy, respectful environments and relationships to prevent or eliminate bullying and discrimination.
Every student has the right to belong to a GSA. Please contact your school principal for more information. Our GSA staff advisers undergo ongoing professional development and collaborate with local community organizations to provide further supports and opportunities for students and families.
More information about gay-straight alliances can be found on the Government of Alberta website.
Our division and school staff create safe spaces for all sexual and gender minority staff, students and families. Please contact the school principal or Les Kirchner at our division office to find out more about these supports.
Fact vs Myth
Learn more about what is fact and what is myth on SOGI-related questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following information was compiled by the Calgary Board of Education, and is reprinted with their permission. We thank them for sharing their resources with us.
Our school staff are always encouraged to be in open communication with parents/guardians about the learning and well-being of their children. We believe that learning and development are enhanced by parents/guardians and school staff communicating and working together. Students are entitled to the protection of their personal information, including their gender identity and sexual orientation. Some 2SLGBTQIA+ students are not open about their sexual or gender identity. Given the sensitivity related to one’s gender identity and sexual orientation, if a student discloses that they are 2SLGBTQIA+ to a staff member, that information will be held in confidence and not shared without the student's permission. Many of our students who have made a disclosure related to 2SLGBTQIA+ status to school staff have already had conversations with their parents/guardians. Most students, particularly if they are seeking accommodations such as name/pronoun changes, are approaching the school with their families to have these conversations.
Honouring student requests regarding their preferred name is an important part of helping them feel supported and accepted. Typically students and their parents/guardians approach school staff to discuss the student’s gender identity and to request an Also Known As (AKA) name change. Entering this name into our computer system results in the preferred name being used on most school documentation.
The legal name cannot be changed in the Official Student Record unless the parent/guardian legally changes their child’s name with Alberta Vital Statistics.
When students and parents/guardians meet with school staff they also discuss what gender the student identifies with and what pronouns they would like to use. Some students may use gender-specific pronouns (she/her and he/him) and others may use gender-neutral pronouns (such as they/them). These gender-neutral pronouns have been in use for many years and are very familiar to many of our students, families and staff.
Transgender students can access the washroom and change room that corresponds with their gender identity. However, the decision to do so takes place in the context of a very thoughtful and thorough process that includes meetings with the school staff, parents/guardians and the student. It is important to note that we have not had any instances of students “faking” a different gender identity in an attempt to access washrooms or change rooms with ill intentions. Our experience, and the experiences of other school boards, has shown that students simply do not do this. Additionally, when offered an option, many transgender students choose to access an individual washroom to use the facilities and to change for physical education classes. It is the transgender individuals who are most at risk of harassment or harm when utilizing either the boys or girls washrooms, not the other students.
As new schools are built and current schools are modernized, the construction of gender-neutral washrooms for all students is increasing.
All adults in schools are asked to use the adult washrooms, not student washrooms. Parents/guardians, staff and other adults in our schools can access the adult washrooms that correspond with their gender identity.
Our schools provide a variety of overnight trips for students (e.g. outdoor school camps, band trips, cultural traveling experiences, etc.). The overnight sleeping accommodations for these trips vary greatly (e.g. dorms, hotel rooms, camps, etc.). When a transgender or gender non-conforming student is participating in an overnight trip, consideration is given to the safety and privacy of all students involved. There is no “one way” in which students are accommodated. Many factors are considered including the needs and wishes of the student and their guardians, the facilities where students will be sleeping, the supervision provided, etc.
Students are currently permitted to participate in sex-segregated recreational or competitive athletic activities in accordance with their self-declared gender identity. This is fully supported by the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association in their policy handbook. As noted previously, changing one’s gender identity at school is a thorough process. Transgender and gender non-conforming students and their parents/guardians are typically involved in conversations with school staff about access to physical education classes and sports teams. Very careful consideration is given to what team the student plays on, and what information is shared with the coach, other team members, etc. This is a thoughtful process. A male student cannot simply “declare” he is female and sign up for a girls’ sports team, and vice versa.
Students are currently free to dress and present themselves in a manner that reflects their gender identity, personal taste and comfort. Expectations related to student dress will not be gender specific (e.g. girls must wear skirts for a formal performance while boys are allowed to wear dress pants). All students are still expected to maintain standards related to appropriate attire (e.g. no offensive words or visuals on clothing, clothing that appropriately covers the body, etc.).
Please note that 2SLGBTQIA+ is meant to be an all-encompassing term that includes all gender and sexual minorities or those who are questioning. Terms and definitions are ever changing and we use this as an inclusionary term for all.
- Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy (Policy A-160);
- Board regulation (A-160BR);
- Welcoming, Caring, Respectful and Safe Learning and Working Environments policy (Policy A-110)
- Education Act (section 35.1)
- Outloud St. Albert
- Rainbow Reads -- St. Albert Public Library SOGI book list
- Alberta Education's Guidelines for Best Practices: Creating Learning Environments that Respect Diverse Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Gender Expressions
- SOGI 1 2 3 website
- Alberta GSA network (Facebook)
- Camp fYrefly summer youth leadership program
- Camp Dragonfly summer camp
- University of Alberta Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services
- The Rainbow Pages youth resource guide
- Gender Spectrum