Results of first-ever SCDSB student and workforce censuses highlight diversity of Simcoe County

Board chair says census will allow it to remove some of those barriers and biases that exist within education

Number-crunching time at the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB).

Nearly 27,000 students participated in the board’s first-ever volunteer census, while more than 3,700 staff completed the workforce census.

The results were presented to trustees at Wednesday’s board meeting.

“The census results clearly show the rich diversity present across the SCDSB, with students and staff representing a variety of abilities, ethnic backgrounds, races, religions/creeds, gender identities, and sexual orientations,” the board said in a statement.

The board said it is committed to identifying and removing barriers within its system to ensure that all students and staff are offered supportive, inclusive, and respectful learning and working environments.

“Simcoe County is changing rapidly,” says board chair Jodi Lloyd. “We know that we are growing, and we are projected to grow significantly. It is something that we will do again in the future to ensure that we have the most relevant data related to our students and staff.”

“We need to know who our students are, where they are from, what their backgrounds are and what their identity is so we can better serve them.”

Lloyd says this will allow the board to remove some of those barriers and biases that exist within education to better serve those students who traditionally may not have been as successful in school.

The board says 52 per cent of students in Kindergarten to Grade 6 had a parent/guardian participate in the census on their behalf, while 50 per cent of students in Grades 7-12 participated in the census themselves.

Lloyd says the board needs to know who the students are to plan for the future.

“The board is undertaking an equity audit with an outside consulting firm to look at its policies and processes to ensure there are no embedded biases or barriers to some of our students. Historically, racialized students and Indigenous students have not been successful,” explained Lloyd.

She added the workplace census was also important.

“We want our students to see themselves in our schools and in our staff. This will give us a picture of where our students are and what our student population is, and what our staff and their backgrounds are.”

Key findings from the census by students include:

  • Fifty percent of students selected female as part of their gender identity and 49
    percent selected male. Two percent selected a gender diverse identity.
  • Students in Grades 7-12 identified their sexual orientation as heterosexual/straight
    (78 percent), LGBTQ+ (23 percent) and/or another sexual orientation not listed
    (less than one percent).
  • Five percent of students identified as Indigenous and of these participants 59
    percent were First Nations, 40 percent Métis and three percent Inuit.
  • The racial backgrounds identified by students included: Black (five percent);
    East/Southeast Asian (five percent); Indigenous (four percent); South Asian (five
    percent); and, White (84 percent). Latino, Middle Eastern and additional racial
    backgrounds were each identified by less than two percent of students.
  • The top five ethnic or cultural origins identified by students included: Canadian (75
    percent); English (21 percent); Irish (13 percent); Scottish (12 percent); and,
    German (seven percent).
  • The top five languages students speak at home included: English (96 percent);
    French (five percent); Spanish (two percent); Russian (two percent); and, Urdu
    (one percent).
  • Fifty-nine percent of students reported they do not have a religious or spiritual
    affiliation. Thirty-three percent identified as Christian, four percent as Muslim, two
    percent as Hindu and one percent as Jewish.
  • Twenty-three percent considered themselves (or their child) to be a person with a
    disability or condition. The top three disabilities or conditions identified by these
    participants included: Mental Health (45 percent); Learning (38 percent); and,
    Developmental (18 percent).

Key findings from the census by staff include:

  • Fifty percent of staff are between 19 years of age and 44 years of age and fifty
    percent are between 45 years of age and 65 years of age or older.
  • Seventy-eight percent of staff selected cis woman/woman as their gender identity,
    and twenty-two percent selected cis man/man. Less than one percent selected a
    gender diverse identity.
  • Eighty-eight percent of staff identified their sexual orientation as
    heterosexual/straight and twelve percent as LGBTQ+.
  • Three percent of participants identified as Indigenous and of these participants 34
    percent were First Nations, 67 percent Métis, and 2 percent as another Indigenous
    identity. There were no staff that identified as Inuit.
  • The top five ethnic or cultural origins identified by staff include: Canadian (seventy-four percent), English (twenty-five percent), Scottish (fifteen percent), Irish (fifteen
    percent), French (seven percent) and German (six percent). There were a total of
    113 ethnic or cultural origins collected through the census.
  • The racial backgrounds identified by staff included the following: Black (one
    percent), East/Southeast Asian (one percent), Indigenous (three percent), South
    Asian (one percent) and White (ninety-five percent). Latino, Middle Eastern and
    additional racial backgrounds were each identified by less than one percent of
    staff. There were a total of 15 racial backgrounds collected through the census.
  • Thirty-nine percent of staff reported they do not have a religious or spiritual
    affiliation. Fifty-eight percent identified as Christian, one percent as Buddhist, less
    than one percent identified as either Hindu, Jewish, Indigenous Spirituality or
    Wicca, and two percent identified as another religious or spiritual affiliation. There
    were a total of 38 religious or spiritual affiliations collected through the census.
  • The top five languages staff speak at home included: English (ninety-eight
    percent), French (nine percent), Italian (one percent), German (one percent), and
    Spanish (one percent). There were a total of 53 languages collected through the
    census.
  • Twelve percent of staff considered themselves to be a person with a condition or
    disability. The top three conditions or disabilities identified by these participants
    were mental health (thirty-seven percent), chronic medical condition (thirty-four
    percent) and physical, functional and/or mobility (nineteen percent)
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