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School Board creating education to help marginalized students

With both Pride and Indigenous History Months in full swing, Hastings Prince Edward District School Board (HPEDSB) is working to help kids who may not be represented in the education system.

Ken Dostaler, Superintendent of Education with the board, says they are expanding their educational support to make sure they are helping Indigenous and LGBTQ students.

With the recent discovery of the bodies of 215 children in an unmarked grave on the grounds of a BC residential school, Dostaler says educating people on Indigenous history is important now more than ever. Teachers now have access to a number of resources to help students navigate through this time. Resources such as guidance on education about residential schools, as well as textbooks that highlight Indigenous history and contributions, are part of an expanded push in the Board to teach this subject.

Dostaler also plans to have more support for LGBTQ students, teaching students what the symbols and letters behind Pride mean, and making sure that staff are supportive of students. The goal is to make sure that these students are supported and recognized in the school system.

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With mental health being at the forefront of children’s wellbeing, Dostaler says the school board offers a variety of support. These include recruiting youth mental health workers among the student body, social workers and mental health workers assisting staff, and Indigenous social workers listening to the needs of students. Dostaler stresses that students need to be at the center of these discussions, and it is important to keep their ear to the ground to make sure things go smoothly.

Dostaler says that this initiative is present across the board. Later this month, an Equity Plan that will make these changes year-long will be presented to school stakeholders. It is Dostaler’s hope that they will be able to implement these by the fall. These plans will include goals that will allow the Board to see just how much of a positive impact they can make on Indigenous and LGBTQ youth.

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