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Education minister meets with Edmonton Catholic trustees over transgender policy

EDMONTON — Alberta’s education minister said he’s confident Edmonton Catholic Schools is on the path to creating a policy that protects transgender students.

“I certainly will entrust them to make something that fits in with the School Act, that fits in with human rights expectations here in the province of Alberta, and ensures that we build a safe and caring environment for all students,” said David Eggen.

Eggen sat down with several board members at the legislature Wednesday morning following an unruly public board meeting last week.

One trustee told media before the board meeting that he saw being transgender as a “mental disorder” and another cried over accusations that she was homophobic.

Eggen said he has been assured the board will improve its functioning and craft a respectful policy.

“I am confident that this board will take steps to improve the capacity to work through decisions,” he said. “There’s always differences of opinion—I’m used to that, I work in the legislature—but it has to be not dissolving into acrimony.”

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READ MORE: Vote on transgender policy put on hold after heated debate by Edmonton Catholic School trustees

ECSB Chair Debbie Engel said the meeting was extremely positive and the board will move ahead on a stand-alone transgender policy.

“We spoke about keeping children safe, we spoke about inclusive communities, we spoke about what that policy looked like,” said Eggen. “We now have a very clear indication of what the minister is expecting as next steps with regard to what happened on Tuesday the 15th an his reaction to that.”

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Engel said the policy will likely look similar to the one in place at Edmonton Public Schools.

The board has been working for months on a policy after a human rights complaint was filed by the family of a seven-year-old transgender girl.

The child wants to use the girls’ washroom in her school instead of one designated as gender-neutral.

With files from Caley Ramsay, Global News.