Statement: Vote to Protect 2SLGBTQ+ Rights in the Louis Riel School Division

June 6, 2024, (WINNIPEG, MB) - Today there is a by-election to fill a vacancy for the office of School Trustee in the Louis Riel School Division. This election is crucial, as it will determine the successor to Francine Champagne, the controversial trustee ousted last September. Though Champagne was ousted for her stance on queer issues, and how they misaligned with the mission of the Louis Riel School Division, it is alarming to see candidates in this race using similar anti-trans and "parental rights" rhetoric, which poses a significant threat to the well-being and rights of 2SLGBTQ+ students.

School board trustees play a pivotal role in shaping the educational environment and policies that directly impact student achievement, well-being, and equity. Trustees are not merely figureheads; they are influential policymakers who can either champion or undermine the rights of marginalized communities, including 2SLGBTQ+ youth. Despite not being overtly affiliated with political parties, trustees often bring their political ideologies into their decision making, affecting the inclusivity and safety of our schools.

Recent Canadian research highlights the dire state of 2SLGBTQ+ youth in our schools. Studies show that unsupportive environments, such as those created by parental rights policies restricting gender expression, book bans limiting access to 2SLGBTQ+ literature, and anti-trans rhetoric, significantly increase the risk of negative outcomes for 2SLGBTQ+ youth. According to the Trevor Project, LGBTQ+ youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. Additionally, one report demonstrated that 2SLGBTQ+ youth from highly rejecting families were “eight times more likely to attempt suicide, six times more likely to experience clinical depression, and three times more likely to use illicit drugs” than 2SLGBTQ+ adolescents from more accepting families compared to those from accepting families. Furthermore, an Egale study revealed 2SLGBTQ students need “educators to explicitly and visibly support, respect, include, and validate them – all of which is exactly what every student in every school wants and is entitled to expect.”

Saint Cyr LRSD By Election

(Left) A candidate in the Louis Riel School Division School Trustee by-election uses parental rights and anti-trans rhetoric in their flyer.


Imagine if, with every election, you were at risk of losing your rights

The role of school trustees is to ensure that all students, regardless of their background or identity, have equal opportunities to succeed. This includes implementing policies that protect 2SLGBTQ+ students from discrimination and promote their inclusion and safety. Trustees must prioritize the well-being of students over political agendas that seek to marginalize vulnerable populations.

Imagine if, with every election, you were at risk of losing your rights — that is the world 2SLGBTQ+ people continue to live in. It is imperative that we politic-proof our schools and safeguard the rights of 2SLGBTQ+ students. Rainbow calls on the Government of Manitoba to mandate respectful 2SLGBTQ+ curriculum at every grade level and mandate comprehensive 2SLGBTQ+ training for all education system actors, including trustees. This will ensure that our schools are inclusive, supportive, and safe for all students.

I urge the community to recognize the importance of this by-election and, for those who can, to vote for candidates who are committed to protecting and promoting 2SLGBTQ+ rights. It's important to learn about the candidates before you vote, you can do so here. Your vote directly impacts the future of our schools and the well-being of our students. Stand with us in advocating for an inclusive and equitable education system that respects and celebrates the diversity of all students.

Together, we can create a school environment where every student feels valued and supported. Vote for equality. Vote for inclusion. Vote for the future of our 2SLGBTQ+ youth.

Ashley Smith (he/him)
Director of Advocacy, Rainbow Resource Centre
204.474.0212 (ext. 255)