TEACHERS in British Columbia voted to support gay school clubs a week after a 14-year-old in the state jumped to his death in the Fraser River because other pupils labelled him "a fag".
His suicide note said that he had been tormented by his fellow students because he liked to spend time with girls. It also revealed that being called "a fag" was one of the main reasons why he took his own life.
"Obviously, this tragic event brought home for our union, as it did for all of British Columbia, that something has to be done," said Linda Watson, second vice-president of the British Columbia Teachers' Federation.
David Chudnovsky, the federtion's president, added: "Knowing they have allies at school will send a strong message to gay and lesbian students that they are not alone."
The clubs are likely to be modelled on the Queer-Straight
Alliance club at Pinetree secondary school in Coquitlam which, according to Brent Power, who started the club, "offers gays, lesbians and straight students a safe place to meet and make friends".
Although the decision to establish such clubs lies with each school, the minister of education, Penny Priddy said: "I support any initiative that makes all students feel safe and comfortable in their school. You can't learn if you're terrified."