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Q & A: Watch for an updated version of PRISM

March 28, 2017 Gordon Thomas, Executive Secretary

Question: Why am I getting a new version of the PRISM Toolkit for Secondary Schools, and why is the older version being recalled?

Answer: Alberta Teachers’ Association representatives in junior and senior high schools will be receiving a newly revised version of the PRISM Toolkit for Secondary Schools in the March school mailing. The toolkit is also available for free downloading in the Publications section of the Association website. The shortened URL links directly to the PDF file.

PRISM is an acronym for “Professionals Respecting and supporting Individual Sexual Minorities.” The PRISM toolkit was created by practising Alberta teachers to help secondary schools promote safe and supportive spaces for sexual and gender minorities as required by the School Act. This teacher resource was developed in collaboration with Alberta Education as a result of the popularity of the PRISM edition for elementary students, originally published in 2013. The PRISM Toolkit for Secondary Schools includes lesson plans for teachers of all core subjects and many options that tie directly to curricular outcomes in the Alberta Program of Studies for Grades 7–12. As with any teaching resource, teachers should exercise their personal professional judgment when determining how best to use the PRISM toolkits.

The recall is necessary because the Association has determined that two images depicting groups of high school students were included in the earlier version without the proper prior permissions being in place.

To respect privacy legislation and avoid potential sanctions or liability, the Association is therefore required to recall printed copies of the earlier document for secure destruction.

In addition to dealing with the privacy and permissions issue, the revised version incorporates several other improvements intended to address content that was distracting from the valuable information and advice contained in the toolkit. For example, the much commented upon “Gender Unicorn” graphic has, in the immortal words of a certain Irish Rovers’ song, “floated away” and been replaced by a set of spectra that more clearly depict the various dimensions of sexual and gender diversity.

Readers should not infer that changes like this represent a rejection by the Association of the important content of the document. Rather, we are revising the content’s presentation to ensure that the medium doesn’t distract from the important message.

Teachers are being asked to collect and store the older version of the document with the green cover until they receive directions from their local about how to return the documents for disposal. The original elementary edition of PRISM is not affected by the recall. ❚

Questions for consideration in this column are welcome. Please address them to Gordon Thomas at Barnett House (

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