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#UGDSBIncludesPride – Staff are using tech as a positive platform to share student voice

April 3, 2019

GUELPH, Ontario – Upper Grand District School Board staff and students have been hard at work preparing for June’s Rainbow Leadership Summit and this year a different approach was taken to reach out to student LGBTQ+ and GSA groups in the UGDSB.

The Rainbow Leadership Summit was born from the legacy of the Rainbow Coalition Conference and this year students in grades 5-12 who lead LGBTQ+ and GSA equity groups will share a day of learning, reflecting and celebrating on June 4.

As one of the changes to this year’s summit, UGDSB Equity Lead Jessica Rowden and Curriculum Lead Jen Apgar have utilized technology to connect with student groups and prepare for this great day of collaboration.

Jen and Jess_hangout

According to Apgar, in the UGDSB the use of technology goes beyond the curriculum in many cases and that is one of the reasons there has been a recent spike in using it in equity work.

Technology like Google Hangouts has been used as a tool to extend the equity work the board is doing by providing greater access to school groups. In planning the Rainbow Leadership Summit, Apgar and Rowden used this technology to connect with student groups and talk to students about how they want to see the summit play out this year. 

Rowden and Apgar said that technology like this allows them to see the faces of students and hear their voices at multiple schools without the time and expense commitments of driving to each school to meet with groups individually.

So far this year Apgar and Rowden have used Google Hangouts to connect with 17 school groups and feedback from the hangouts has been very positive. Apgar and Rowden used Google Hangouts over the course of a week when planning the summit. This allowed student groups to connect with them at any time during the school day and provided an interactive way for students to share their voice.

According to Apgar, “using technology to connect with LGBTQ+/GSA student groups serves two purposes. The first is this is a practical way to share information. The second is that this is a great way to build relationships and provide continued support to students year round, not just the day of the event. For many students, knowing there are more adults outside of their school to support them and knowing the UGDSB stands with them is huge.”

Some of the student groups that connected on Google Hangouts will be presenting at the summit about what they are doing in their groups and how other LGBTQ+/GSA school groups can take these equity ideas back to school with them.

This year’s summit will focus on the student voice and will allow students to see how they can make themselves heard, how they can empower each other and how they can take their learning deeper.

For more information about the Rainbow Leadership Summit, please visit the event website.

Rainbow Leadership Summit

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