Administrative Procedures

Controversial Issues And Resources

Instruction & Assessment AP 260

Background

Controversial issues are those in which individuals hold opposing viewpoints. Studying controversial issues is an integral part of student learning and is important in preparing students to participate responsibly in a democratic and pluralistic society.

The study of issues that are controversial provides students opportunities to develop:

  • The ability to think clearly,
  • The ability to reason logically,
  • The ability to respectfully examine different points of view with an open mind, and
  • The ability to use new learning to generate sound judgments or opinions.

Procedures

1. Each Principal, in consultation with the staff and School Council, shall develop specific processes, within the parameters established by the Division, to deal with controversial issues and resources.

2. School processes shall:

2.1.  Ensure strict adherence to provincial and federal legislation including the Alberta

Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

2.2.  Ensure information regarding controversial materials represent alternative points of view, subject to the condition that information presented is not restricted by any federal or provincial law;

2.3.  Reflect the maturity, capabilities and educational needs of the students;

2.4.  Meet the requirements of provincially prescribed and approved courses, programs of study and education programs; and

2.5.  Reflect the neighbourhood and community in which the school is located, as well as provincial, national and international contexts.

3. Teachers, students and others participating in studies or discussions of controversial issues shall exercise sensitivity to minimize the possibility that students and others are ridiculed, embarrassed or intimidated for positions they hold on controversial issues.

4. As controversial issues include topics on which reasonable people may disagree, the Superintendent supports a standard approach to resolution that promotes tolerance and understanding given that consensus may be unlikely.

5. Parents shall be notified in advance and afforded the opportunity of having the student leave the classroom or remaining in the classroom without participating, without academic penalty:

5.1.  Where the subject matter to be studied deals primarily and explicitly with religion, or utilizes resources deemed religious in nature, or

5.2.  Where the subject matter to be studied deals primarily and explicitly with human sexuality or sexual orientation.

6. The Principal and staff shall play a supportive role to parents in the areas of values and moral development and shall handle parental decisions in regard to controversial issues with respect and sensitivity.

7. The Principal shall advise the Area Superintendent with respect to the teaching of controversial issues, or utilization of controversial resources in a school, as deemed prudent to do so.

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Date Approved: September 10, 2019

Reference: Education Act 16, 18, 196, 197 Alberta Human Rights Act
Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Amendment Act
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Guide to Education ECS to G. 12

Reviewed or Revised:
Executive: January, 2019

References shall be updated as required and do not require additional approval.