The Greater Victoria School District has shown its commitment to protect students from bullying extends beyond Pink Shirt Day, and even international boundaries.
The school district announced last week that it will not schedule any future trips to the United States while conducting a review of the trips to the U.S. that were already on the books. The board of education’s decision comes on the heels of an executive order by U.S. President Donald Trump to place travel restrictions on citizens from a number of predominantly Muslim countries.
“We’re very mindful that we have, for example, 83 Syrian refugee students in our district,” said school superintendent Piet Langstraat. “Even if they’re not scheduled to go on a trip, clearly they would not be able to travel to the United States. What do we do with that as a school community?”
This is just the type of message we would hope our schools convey to our children. It doesn’t matter the number of students being singled out for unfair treatment, we must stand up for the principle that demands each and every one of our children be treated with fairness and respect.
“Our district is governed by values, and it is our values of tolerance, understanding and equity that must guide our decision-making,” said board chair Edith Loring-Kuhanga.
The district had already scheduled 10 U.S. trips involving 410 students, and each of those trips will be reviewed on an individual basis before being allowed to proceed. There’s no doubt the decision will be a disappointment for some of the students and their families who could see the trips they had been planning for at risk of being cancelled.
But this too can provide a valuable learning experience for both students and the greater community. Sometimes standing up to a bully is not easy, sometimes it requires a sacrifice.
The decision to speak out is not always an easy one, but most often it is the right one.