Equity and Inclusive Education

The York Region District School Board has policies, procedures and guidelines in place that provide strong foundations for an equitable and inclusive workplace and learning environment. Ontario's Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy provides the foundation for the work in school boards regarding equitable and inclusive practices in support of student achievement and well-being. York Region District School Board is seen as a prominent leader in the area of equity and inclusivity as a result of the multifaceted initiatives, programs and activities that are designed to ensure that diversity is honoured and affirmed for all in our schools.

The York Region District School Board is proud of its well-designed Equity and Inclusivity policies and related procedures that support our goal of inclusion.


Status Report December 2023

The Learning, Equity and Inclusivity Symposium took place on November 22 and 23, 2023 for school and workplace teams district-wide. Schools were represented by teams of educators, including school administrators, Equity Designates, Indigenous Education Liaisons and curriculum leads. Service departments were represented by managers and staff who have volunteered to take on the role of Equity Designates and Indigenous Education Liaisons. Keynote speakers included Human Rights lawyer and advocate Njeri Damali Sojourner-Campbell, and Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, advocate for racial justice, and the founder of the Racial Literacy Project. Symposium participants engaged in focused learning to deepen their critical consciousness and understanding of human rights in education, to increase their racial literacy, and to design and implement equitable and inclusive practices that positively impact teaching, leading, and learning outcomes for all members of the school community.

The Inclusive School and Community Services (ISCS) department is dedicated to supporting the board’s commitment to achieving equitable outcomes for marginalized students by championing equity and inclusivity as foundational to student achievement and well-being. ISCS is comprised of the following teams: the Community and Partnership Developers, Connex Newcomer Youth Program team (Ministry funding ending March 2024), Equity and Inclusive Education Consultants, Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Strategy Implementation Plan Team, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education Team, and YRDSB’s Reception Centre. These teams work intra-and-interdepartmentally to lead and support the implementation of the Multi-Year Strategic Plan, the Director’s Action Plan (DAP) 2.0, the board’s Equity and Inclusive Education Policy and Procedures, the Indigenous Education and Equity Strategy, and the Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Strategy.

ISCS staff engage in a wide range of actions at the system, school and classroom levels and provide identity-affirming, culturally responsive services and supports for equity-deserving communities.  ISCS works in partnership with a wide range of community partners to identify and remove barriers and work collectively to ensure equitable outcomes and inclusive schooling experiences for all students.

The Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Implementation Plan is in its third year of implementation. The 2023-2024 focus continues to support increased student achievement, credit accumulation, graduation rates, and a focus on addressing Key Performance Indicators (KPI) from the DABRS report. The York Region District School Board is committed to the priorities of the Strategy through three foci areas.  Each of the foci areas below are coordinated and led through teams that are comprised of Superintendents from each CEC, Administrators, consultants and teachers:

1. Bold Leadership and System Practices

This foci area reinforces a commitment to bold leadership and aligns with the Multi-Year Strategic Plan, Director’s Action Plan, Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Implementation Plan, and School Improvement Planning through the implementation of protocols and guidelines that address anti-Black racism throughout the Board. System and school leaders play pivotal roles in inspiring and setting high expectations for the success of Black students and staff and in addressing and to address and dismantle systemic anti-Black racism.  

2. Culturally Relevant Teaching and Learning Outcomes

This foci area is dedicated to integrating culturally relevant teaching, learning, and curriculum that actively embrace the rich diversity and nuanced complexities of the Black experience(s) and the African diaspora. It aims to ensure that our educational approach is inclusive and reflective of the varied histories, cultures, and perspectives within the Black community, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of this diversity among students and educators alike.

3. Black Affirming Environments and Community Engagement

The third foci centers around the importance of listening to, building trust with, forming partnerships, and collaborating with Black communities. Purposeful engagement with these communities is vital in cultivating  Black-affirming learning and working environments conducive to strengthening pride, empowerment and positive narratives that enrich and inspire Black students, families and staff. 

As the Equity and Inclusivity Advisory Committee (EIAC) enters its tenth full year, it continues to be responsible for supporting the Board's commitment to equitable and inclusive schools and workplaces. EIAC provides advice and consultation to the Director of Education and the Board of Trustees on matters of equity and inclusivity. EIAC also advises the board on the development and implementation of the Multi Year Strategic Plan, Director’s Action Plan, equity-focused reports as well as policies and procedures related to equity. EIAC is comprised of community members from all four geographic areas and community representatives from several of York Region’s community organizations, supported by trustees and staff.  YRDSB’s Equity and Inclusivity Advisory Committee plays a valuable role in helping to ensure that the Board addresses all dimensions of diversity through an anti-racist and anti-oppressive lens.

A staff-led working committee, the Equity Strategy Steering and Action Committee (ESSAC) remains active in facilitating the implementation of the Equity Strategy. Its primary objective is to support the board in fostering equitable and inclusive learning and working environments across the district. The committee includes forty staff members representing all sectors within the school board supported by three Co-Chairs and the Coordinating Superintendent of Education, Equity, Inclusive School and Community Services, Research and Assessment Services. The committee is structured into five subcommittees, each dedicated to developing guidance and resources grounded in equity and inclusivity across the region. These five ESSAC subcommittees below aim to provide comprehensive support in realizing the board’s equity priorities and goals. 


Data Diversity

The Data Diversity team supports the sharing and use of system data in schools, such as the Every Student Counts Survey, to help administrators and school staff analyze data that can inform and provide important points of reference in the System Improvement Learning Cycle and in School Improvement Planning.


Policy and Procedures

The Policy and Procedures team works with system contacts to review policies and procedures and provides consultative input to the board. This team adopts an approach to reviewing board policies and procedures grounded in anti-oppression and anti-racism frameworks and principles. They intentionally reflect on whose voices may be missing or not represented within the policies, aiming to eliminate barriers to equity and inclusion. This approach ensures a comprehensive and inclusive perspective in the policy development or revision process.


Professional Learning

The Professional Learning team has been supporting Equity Designates in developing a deeper understanding of anti-oppression and anti-racism within education. This partnership includes working in collaboration with Inclusive School and Community Services teams (ISCS). Going forward, ISCS will take the lead in developing and facilitating professional learning programs specifically to support Equity Designates in schools and workplaces. Additionally, the Professional Learning subcommittee of ESSAC will continue to work as part of the membership to share insights from across the system, enriching the work of the initiatives undertaken by all subcommittees and implementation teams.


Program Accommodations for Faith Purposes

As mandated by the Ministry of Education’s Equity Strategy, school boards are expected to take appropriate steps to provide religious accommodations for students and staff. Religious accommodation provisions are designed to promote respectful working and learning environments. Our Equity and Inclusivity Procedure #261.8 Religious Accommodation, and our guidelines entitled Program Accommodations for Faith Purposes have now been revised. The revised version clearly outlines the specific roles and responsibilities of staff in ensuring that religious accommodation is provided to students and employees as per the Ministry’s mandate.

The ESSAC Program Accommodations for Faith Purposes team has three Implementation Teams; Resource Review, Resource Development and Professional Learning. These teams are responsive to the needs of the system in supporting families, schools and the board with regards to how we can plan for and support faith accommodations in our schools.

Recent system wide work:

  • Distribution of the 6th Edition of the Multifaith Information Manual and the Religious Accommodation in Ontario Schools: A Toolkit for Schools and School Boards (April 2023)

  • Presentations to each CEC Joint Administration Meetings highlighting the above resources, highlighting the Faith Accommodation Framework to support staff in schools as well as system resources


Student and Community Outreach

The Student and Community Outreach team is working to raise awareness of the importance of parent-community collaboration, giving voice to marginalized communities to help remove barriers related to their academic achievement and well-being. This team also works with ISCS Community and Partnership Developers and several of YRDSB’s Employee Affinity Groups to support marginalized students and families.

Equity Strategy Steering and Action Committee (ESSAC) is currently seeking new members and has revised its Terms of Reference to reflect the number of teams and the structure of its subcommittees. ESSAC provides its members with learning, resources and support to advise the board and support system actions in creating equitable and inclusive schools and workplaces.

Inclusive School and Community Services is responsible for supporting the leadership and coordination of student conferences focused on equity and inclusivity. The SpeakOUT conference is an example of a student conference which took place in-person on November 16, 2023.



Secondary students from across the YRDSB took part in this student conference which is for secondary school Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs). Conference participants engage in a range of workshops that support the work of GSAs in their development of anti-oppressive and inclusive learning environments that are free of bullying and discrimination for all students. The conference is an opportunity for secondary school GSA members and GSA Teacher Advisors from across the region to share best practices, learn new information and to engage in practices that welcome and affirm all intersecting 2SLGBTQI+ social identities within their schools. A brief keynote presentation, workshops and closing conversation were provided for each of the delegations. School social workers were also present to facilitate an educational session on mental health and wellbeing, and support students as needed.

YRDSB is committed to student achievement and well-being by working to ensure equitable access and outcomes through accessible and inclusive learning and working environments. We work to identify and implement structures and strategies that centre marginalized voices and support student and staff agency to deepen the understanding of the intersecting social identities and lived experiences of all learners. Identity-specific, staff coordinated Employee Affinity Groups have a long-standing history in York Region.  

These EAGs support staff and students' well-being and learning needs while working in close partnership with community organizations that support those whose lived experiences the organizations represent. The Employee Affinity Groups are supported by Inclusive School and Community Services and the Coordinating Superintendent of Equity, ISCS, Research and Assessment Services.

In addition to the eight existing identity specific employee affinity groups supporting Black, East Asian, Jewish, Korean, Muslim, 2SLGBTQI+, South Asian and Tamil students, families and staff, this fall YRDSB saw four new affinity groups begin. These include the Latine Educators’ Network (LEN), Maamwi Nkiiwin (First Nations, Metis and Inuit Affinity Group), the Iranian Afghan Educator Alliance (IAEA) and the Sikh Educators’ Voice Alliance (SEVA). 

Updated December 2023