Between November 14 and December 23, the Upper Canada District School Board released a “We All Belong Survey” to improve school inclusivity. Among the topics covered were students’ sexual orientation preference, gender identity, Race, ethnicity, home-life conditions, mental health, and school related issues.
While the total number of participants from Seaway District High School are unknown, The Scoop asked 53 students ranging from all grades whether they thought it was relevant to inclusivity or whether it was deemed invasive.
Students were also asked whether they believed that social issues in the media should be as involved with schools and education. They were asked their reasons for thinking so. Eighteen agreed that the survey is beneficial to improving inclusivity, 12 disagreed and were offended as they thought the UCDSB survey was invasive, while 23 held mixed opinions.
Among those surveyed, the UCDSB questions around sexual orientation, gender identity, and mental health, prompted debate by Seaway students.
Those with mixed opinions argued that social issues and personal matters should remain in their own separate environment. Some also agreed that those topics cannot be ignored altogether.
Grade 11 student Jenessa Richmire largely agreed with the survey.
“I found the survey to be quite long but it’s great that the survey is really going into detail about social issues like with the LGBTQ+ among other things and making a more inclusive school-life,” explained Richmire.
Grade 12 student Morgan Belhumeur disagreed.
“If there was an actual need for the survey then I could understand, however. There is almost too much attention brought to social topics in the news which don’t concern our education here in schools” replied Belhumeur.
“It’s invasive to ask questions like these when they don’t need to know for ‘inclusivity’ but simply because they want to know for themselves.”
Many of the students we asked expressed concerns over the questions included, and the privacy of the survey. A statement on the UCDSB website said the survey is not anonymous but confidential and protected under the Privacy Act.
Kathleen Moss, a research officer with the UCDSB responded to questions from The Scoop about the use of the data collected through the survey and how it is funded.
“The Ministry of Education is providing school boards with funding for demographic data gathering,” Moss explained. “The survey results can potentially assist with establishing school-based programs related to mental health and well-being, inclusivity, equity and diversity.”
She added the survey results would help create conditions for student success at UCDSB schools.
The school board also conducted a similar survey for its intermediate level (Grades 7 and 8).
The results of the survey as well as the full survey will be released on the UCDSB website and further information will be periodically released as research is received, according to UCDSB officials.