Open Letter to Edmonton Catholic School District Board of Trustees on Pending Gender Identity & Expression Policy Vote

Greetings,

As you prepare to discuss and vote on the policy that Trustee Grell will introduce to you today, I pray that each of you take the time to consider what truly is at stake here and vote for the best interest of the child at the centre of this issue, all transgender children in your schools and ALL children in OUR school system.

I, and [the mother], along with the assistance of many other experts and community members, have worked many hours and in good faith to create a policy that we can all accept. We believe this policy is not only acceptable but reflects Bill 10 which you are obligated to adhere to. This policy was drafted based on evidence and best practices in boards throughout this province. 

You made a public commitment to us, this community and your electorate on May 19th that you would draft this policy. Tonight is the opportunity to honour this commitment. I am concerned that many of you will be inclined to follow your fear and heed the demands of the bishop rather than carry out your obligation to represent those who elected you. The intent and purpose of public education is thoroughly undermined when an unelected Bishop can unilaterally create policies based on a distorted view of religion rather than on well-established evidence and research. If this were allowed to happen, duly elected trustees such as yourselves, who are designated to represent the voice of the community, have no role or function within a publicly funded educational system. Democracy is vanquished and discrimination is allowed to flourish when trustees are actively silenced by an unelected church hierarchy. Should this policy not be accepted, I and many others will be forced to question this board’s ability to govern effectively and fully represent their electorate. The health and safety of all children should be everyone’s primary concern.

I will not be able to attend this meeting tonight as I am in Hungary preparing to speak on behalf of other children in need (in neonatal intensive care units around the world). But I will be watching online and am monitoring the situation closely. We must all realize that a policy will be in place. Either forced upon you by the government, the courts, or through your own leadership tonight. Let’s not wait. Let’s not let other children suffer while we wait for an eventuality to happen. 

In closing, as I arrived at the main train station in Budapest today, I found myself staring at a bunch of pictures drawn by refugee children who survived long enough to make it this far. My heart broke. I couldn’t help but cry for these children while standing on the steps of this train station. We must protect all children. Those who are fleeing war, those who are hungry, and those in our schools. Wherever we can help a child, we are obligated as humans, as Christians, to do so. This day, you have an opportunity, an obligation, to help and protect the children of Edmonton Catholic Schools. I pray you do just that.

Marni Panas
marni.panas@gmail.com

@marnipanas

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