Onward and upward
by Dale Burgos
The view of Seattle, Washington from the Space Needle
Back in the summer, I shared with you some very personal details of my life. I don’t usually announce to the world intimate details of the Burgos Bunch, but when it came to the basic human rights of one of my children, I didn’t hesitate to share our story.
To recap, if you read my past articles “Gender Identity Crisis” and “Gender Identity Theft,” you’ll know that Elizabeth and I have a transgender daughter. You will also know that we have been in a lengthy human rights complaint against a school division in Manitoba. The basis was discrimination.
Since Bella’s transition in August 2014, we have asked for transgender (gender identity) education, training and guidelines to be implemented in the school division, as it would provide the basis for understanding and knowing the rights of transgender individuals.
I’ve got great news: I’m happy to report that after more than a year and a half, we have resolved our human rights filing. Our family, the Manitoba Human Rights Commission and the school division have developed gender identity guidelines that protect the rights of students and staff. Education for students: check. Training for staff: check. Guidelines that protect the rights of students and staff: check.
Many across the country were watching our case closely. Some news outlets even described it as a “landmark ruling.” What does that mean? It means that what has been developed can be used by other school divisions, companies, jurisdictions – you name it.
What started out as a complaint about discrimination and segregation, became so much more. Once messages of support started to flood our inboxes, Elizabeth and I quickly realized that our struggles were not so unique. And even though we moved away, we wanted to continue the conversation to help improve the world in which Bella and others like her live.
So what’s next for us? Hopefully, not much. We want to focus on the family. In BC, the public schools have a two-week spring break. How awesome is that? The first week we spent updating our house with some minor home renovations. For the second week, I was able to check something off my bucket list. For the longest time, I have always wanted to visit Seattle, but the drive from Winnipeg was a bit of a haul. Now, since it is mere hours away, why the heck not? Space Needle, city underground tour, Pike Place Market: check, check and check!
With this big weight lifted from our shoulders, it was nice to get out and enjoy life once again: check.
Dale is the director of communications for a school district in British Columbia and will continue to share his stories from afar.