It’s about feeling safe and included.
For Delta teacher Trevana Spilchen, the district formalizing a policy of inclusion several years ago was a key factor in feeling safe enough to come out as a trans woman.
Spilchen is now the district’s SOGI coordinator, helping teachers improve the curriculum and gain a better understanding of how to approach LGBTQ issues.
“There’s always going to be work to do. I think it’s the same with misogyny or sexism or racism or anything. I feel like we in Delta are towards the top of the pack as far as districts go. I feel like the teachers really want to do the right thing but it takes time, doing the small things and talk to people,” said Spilchen.
“I came out as a trans woman in the district in 2016 and one of the only reasons I came out is because of the policy, a policy that says the district chooses to support people who choose to transition. That was really important for me. So when we have that in policy, and I do the work of going out to schools and telling people this policy exists and the expectations of the district, it makes people feel a whole lot safer.”
Spilchen explained part of the coordinator’s responsibilities involves working with a district committee and helping teachers and students increase awareness, as well as working with teachers directly on curriculum. That work includes which books should be used and how to use them, as well as annual workshops on such topics as how to use appropriate language.
There’s also a curriculum team with Spilchen involved with youth/adult novels that are LGBTQ-focused, choosing the right materials and developing lesson plans on those materials.
“Teachers really want to be inclusive and they want to bring in different stories about marginalized groups, whether that’s people of colour or different ethnicities or, in this case, LGBTQ people, but they may not know how or what books. It’s a lot of work for teachers to be reading a lot of different books to find one that works. So we provide books for them and resources.”
Spilchen, who also supports high school gender sexuality alliance committees, noted they also hold events, including a successful district-wide Pride dance for students last year.
COVID-19 forced the cancellation of this year’s dance but Spilchen said the plan is to make it a regular event in the coming years.
The Delta School District states it has been at the forefront in creating language in its formal procedures that ensure those who self-identify as a member of a sexual minority feel safe, included and acknowledged.