Welcome signs to join positive space plaques at area schools
TLDSB WELCOME SIGN.
These signs will soon adorn entranceways at all Trillium Lakelands' schools.
December 5, 2012
MUSKOKA - Concern over wording on positive space signs has resulted in the creation of a second sign, this one to welcome everyone to area schools.
The positive space signage was distributed to schools throughout Trillium Lakelands District School Board in the spring of this year with the wording “This is a place where all people are respected, and where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and two-spirited people, and their families, friends and allies are welcomed and supported.”
Controversy, particularly at the elementary level, surrounded the wording of the signs, including whether it was appropriate for elementary-aged children and the omission of heterosexuals from the list of those welcomed.
Following a heated discussion at the September committee of the whole meeting, the trustees of Trillium Lakelands District School Board created an ad hoc committee to look into the wording of the signs. However, instead of a change to the positive space signs, a new sign has been added, stating: “Welcome. In our school we want everyone to feel accepted, respected, and safe.” It goes on to direct visitors to check in at the main office.
“The positive space initiative really is all about showing support for a group of students and people in our communities who have not traditionally felt supported, so it’s a whole other initiative that is part of our equity and inclusive education strategy,” explained Larry Hope, director of education at the board. “But we want also to have something else that is generally inclusive of everyone who may come into our schools.”
Currently at the entrances of schools there is a mixture of signs, which Hope described as a “hodge-podge of welcoming or not so welcoming signs,” some very friendly, others telling people they are trespassing if they haven’t checked in at the office. The goal is to replace the existing signs with the new welcome signs to provide a consistent and clear message to visitors at all schools in Trillium Lakelands.
“We want to have something that is consistent, that sends a clear message around expectations that anybody coming to our school, short of students who belong there every day, that they really should be checking in at the office,” explained Hope. “But we want to be clear with people that our environments are welcoming environments.”
The new signs will be posted at all entrances where visitors may enter a school. In contrast, positive space signs may be posted alongside the welcome signs in the main entrance or they may be found elsewhere in the schools.
“The positive space signs, in some instances, may be in a main office. Our school councils and principals may have determined that at this point in some schools, they should be in a main foyer or main entranceway. They may be in the principal’s office, they may be in a staff room, they may be an intermediate wing perhaps,” listed Hope. “It really does depend on what the school council and the principal come up with.”
For the welcome signs, the sign committee reviewed signage from other school boards and industries to come up with the wording to meet their goal of being inclusive and welcoming of everyone.
In addition to the welcoming and directive messages, the signs also display consistent branding, with the school board’s logo, their “Better Together” logo and the board’s website and toll-free phone number, an element that is currently missing in the wide variety of signs found at Trillium Lakelands schools.
“We want everything we do to have a similar look and feel to it,” said Hope. “And right now, when it comes to signage at our schools, that is absolutely not the case.”
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