OK, kiddo! Here are all the fantastically amazing posts tagged with Burnaby

Homophobic Lobby Group Freaks Out Over Anti-Bullying Video

March 5th, 2012

Jafar from Alladin holds up a sign: "Burnaby Parent's Voice"

Hundreds of students from schools across Vancouver have collaborated to create a YouTube video called the Pink Project, a creative effort to help spread the message that bullying is not OK. The video features students from eleven different schools dancing to Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way,” all wearing pink shirts with the message “Acceptance; Born this way.” It’s pretty great, and looks like it was a lot of fun to do!

Of course, some people just don’t like the sound of childrens’ laughter. Take Burnaby Parent’s Voice, for example. They’re the anti-gay lobby group that was formed exclusively to oppose the Burnaby School Board’s anti-homophobia policies. They’ve written the Premier of British Columbia in an attempt to stop the Pink Project video from being posted online.

Hey, let’s see if they were successful.

The Pink Project: An adorable dance routine featuring hundreds of students against crazy, homophobic bullies like the lobbyists at Burnaby Parent’s Voice.

Hmm… Seems OK to me. In fact, it’s more than OK; it’s fabulous!

Burnaby Overwhelmingly Rejects Anti-Gay Municipal Party

November 21st, 2011

A campaign ad for Parent's Voice, featuring a chiuaua with the slogan: "Elect Parent's Voice: Disproportionately annoying!"

Parent’s Voice, the municipal political party whose sole purpose revolved around revoking the Burnaby District School Board’s anti-homophobia and anti-bullying policy, has been soundly defeated.

Parent’s Voice was a staunch opponent to the existing school board’s policies acknowledging GLBT students—policies that demonstrably help reduce harassment and bullying that has historically led to suicide. Thankfully, voters instead re-elected the entire city council and school board who had introduced and stood by these important policies. The highest placing of all the Parent’s Voice candidates, by contrast, came in tenth place.

This thorough rejection rather aptly demonstrates just how much of a minority these vocal opponents to equal rights and protections for GLBT people really are. Still, it’s important not to dismiss their actions as inconsequential, so I wish to congratulate all the students and supporters that helped get people out to the polls and counter the sort of nonsense that Parent’s Voice stood for.

Here’s to Burnaby’s much safer schools!

Teacher Receives Death Threat Over Anti-Homophobia Policy

November 7th, 2011

An anonymous man ponders over an anti-homophobia policy: "So many complex, unformed thoughts. How to express them?" He then writes a letter: "YOU WANT TO DESTROY OUR CHILDREN! YOU WILL BE SHOT!"

A teacher in Burnaby, British Columbia has received a death threat over the school board’s proposal to adopt anti-homophobia policies designed to reduce incidents of bullying and make schools safter for GLBT students.

The letter, adorned with illustrations of bloody knives, reads as follows:

Must immediately withdraw POLICY #5.45
Adhere to the basic social principles!
You have no right to do so!
You want to destroy our children!
You are our enemy!
You will be shot!

Similar anti-homophobia policies have been implemented across B.C. without issue—and certainly no death threats—but some bizarre opposition in Burnaby has drawn the policy into the national spotlight. A one-issue political party with five candidates, The Parent’s Voice, was formed expressly to oppose the policy.

While I don’t expect that Parent’s Voice is officially responsible for the death threat, the alarmist language employed by the party certainly contributes to an atmosphere in which these types of reactions are encouraged. In a press release announced shortly before the letter was delivered, the group called the anti-bullying policies part of a “hidden political agenda” consisting of “homosexual propaganda” and “left-wing social engineering led by gay activists” to undermine parents.

The RCMP is investigating the letter.

Parents Start New Party Against School Anti-Bullying Policies

October 19th, 2011

A reporter asks a candidate a question: "What other issues will you be addressing?" to which the candidate replies: "Other issues?"

A new civic party has been started in Burnaby, British Columbia in direct opposition to some new anti-homophobic bullying initiatives introduced by the Burnaby School Board trustees last June.

Calling themselves Parents’ Voice, the party is in opposition to the board’s existing anti-bullying policy on gender identity and sexual orientation, which they call “homosexual propoganda.” Actually, opposition might be a bit of an understatement. The issue is the party’s entire platform, and if elected, the party is vowing to make revoking the policy their only priority.

The party is running five candidates: Homara Ahmad, Charter Lau, Helen Ward, Gordon  World, and Long Xue.

Burnaby, incidentally, is the 14th school board in British Columbia to have adopted a sorely needed anti-homophobia and anti-bullying policy. While it’s important that these board policies remain in place, there is work underway to get the provincial government to adopt a consistent, province-wide policy. If that’s something you’d like to support, today is the last day to participate in the Purple Letter Campaign, so I encourage you to check it out!

Public Schools Move Forward, Catholic Schools Move Back

June 24th, 2011

The Flying Nun Returns: Rapidly redistributing homophobia from public schools into Catholic ones during times of postal lock-outs!

The Burnaby School Board unanimously adopted its anti-homophobia policy last week, after months of debating and church-organized protests. A crowd of about 400 students and supporters cheered outside the Burnaby School Board offices when Kaitlin Burnett, a supporter of the policy, emerged to announce its passage.

The new policy means that public schools in the region will be made safer for any student who is—or is perceived to be—gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the Toronto Catholic School Board introduced several new, gay-unfriendly amendments to its equity policy. Included among them is one that explicitly enshrines the board’s religious doctrine as taking “precedence over human rights protections,” and another that states the board will “approve only clubs which have goals that are not inconsistent with Catholic faith and the Catholic Church’s moral and doctrinal teachings” (which, in Catholic-speak, is a direct strike at the growing support for Gay-Straight Alliances in their schools—important peer support groups statistically shown to reduce bullying and increase student safety).

Having spent my entire grade school education in the Catholic system, I can vouch that it’s survivable—in the same way that Vegemite is a breakfast condiment—but things could be improved, particularly since these schools are tax funded. Until that’s no longer the case, I foresee a difficult road ahead for these sorts of amendments. What might seem like a step backwards now, could be the final straw and signal the end of this kind of nonsense for good!

Anti-Gay Parents Protest School Non-Discrimination Policy

May 11th, 2011

Protesters hold signs including "I'm angry for some reason," "Why am I here?" and "Think of the children!"

A group of parents, organised by a handful of churches, rallied yesterday to protest a non-discrimination policy introduced by the Burnaby school district. The draft policy, which has yet to be finalized, addresses the unacceptably high levels of bullying that GLBT students face in comparison to other students.

This doesn’t sit well with some people, though. James Gray, one of the protest organisers, explained his objections to the press: “I have two young children in the school system and I don’t want any adult to look at them in a sexual way. Whether or not my daughter is heterosexual or a lesbian in none of their business.”

Whoa there, tiger!

I’m not sure what Mr. Gray thinks he’s protesting, but he won’t get very far with this sort of hyperbole.

Mr. Gray should try a thought experiment and imagine growing up in a world where everyone—his teachers, his principal, his parents—assumed that all students, including him, were gay. As a (presumably) straight male, would he have had a problem with this? Would he feel sexualized? I suggest this experiment, because any objections he has should be identical to those of gay people growing up in today’s school systems.

You see, the new policy has nothing to do with “sexualizing” schools, but rather the reverse. With respect to teaching staff, it trains them to remove the assumption that all boys will end up falling in love with girls, and vice versa. Students are not assumed to be either way, because the assumption would inevitably be wrong for some of them. With respect to students, it means that bullying and harassing students for being (or appearing to be) gay will not be tolerated; being a “fag” will no longer be a focus in the schoolyard.

The policy also means that staff will be better trained to deal with crises. Today, GLBT youth have the highest rate of suicide and depression of any other identifiable group, and proper support systems have demonstrated clear improvements to this statistic. If a student discovers that he or she is different and needs to discuss anything, the school will be prepared to lend any special support that student may want. Students can feel safe with the knowledge that teachers and councilors have not made any assumptions about them and will be open to helping.

Larry Hayes, the Burnaby school board chairman, put it best: “It’s all part of creating a safe, caring and respectful environment for all of our students.”