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

School Trustee Says Gay Students Should Act Less Gay

November 26th, 2012

A student tries to suppress his gayness before exploding into a rainbow. "Supressing... The Gay..."

If you’re a student in Alberta hoping that the school boards will offer some official protection from anti-gay bullying, it looks like you’re going to have to keep hoping. Last week, the Alberta School Boards Association rejected a proposal to adopt a province-wide anti-bullying policy aimed at protecting GLBT students and staff.

Now that the boards don’t think anti-gay bullying requires any special action, what advice do they have for all you gay students? Well, according to Dale Schaffrick, one of the 62 percent of board members who voted against the proposal, you could try acting less gay. “Children with a gay tendency,” Schaffrick told the media, could simply hide their gayness and be “less identifiable.”

“I think for their own benefit, it would be helpful,” he continued.

Gee, why didn’t any gay students think about this concept before? Hiding who they are so that bullies won’t pick on them. It would almost be as if they were hiding in a closet of some sort. You know, a metaphorical one.

For those of us thinking it might be better to try condemning the bullies’ behaviour rather than the victims’, it looks like we’ve got some work to do in Alberta. The Edmonton School Board, which introduced the policy to the ASBA, has successfully been running their anti-bullying program for a year now. Other school boards will follow suit, but it looks like some pressure will be needed before students can feel protected province-wide.

Anti-Gay Groups Target Canadian Game Developer

April 16th, 2012

A gay star wars character waves a rainbow lightsabre through the air to create a rainbow.

BioWare, an Edmonton-based game development company, is being targeted by anti-gay groups over the option to make your character gay in their latest video game, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

“In a new Star Wars game, the biggest threat to the empire may be homosexual activists,” said Tony Perkins, head of the anti-gay lobby group Family Research Council.

Now, I’m not exactly “in” on the whole Star Wars universe, but from what I remember about the movies, isn’t “the Empire” the bad guys? If so—and if Perkins is right—then all you’d need to destroy evil and bring peace to the universe forever is to send wave after wave of homosexual activists at the Empire.

I think I’d like to play that game, actually.

Electronic Arts, the game’s publisher, said they’ve received “thousands of letters” threatening to boycott the title over the mere option to play as a gay character. (And, knowing the demographic that usually writes these kind of letters, I’m sure all of them would have otherwise bought the game and played it for months. Snicker.) In response, Jeff Brown, an EA spokesperson, issued a statement supporting their gay customers, and vowing to end anti-gay harassment that gay gamers often experience online:

EA has not been pressured by any groups to include LGBT charcters in our games […] However, we have met with LGBT groups and sponsored industry forums to discuss content and harassment of players in online forums. In short, we do put options for same-sex relationships in our games; we don’t tolerate hate speech on our forums.”

Good for EA and Bioware! After all, some of us were getting a little tired of saving the princess.

Hate Crime Reporting Improves

June 15th, 2011

A cement truck buries a person who ponders reporting the incident.

More and more hate crimes are being reported across the country, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

In 2009, the number of hate crime reported in Canada went up by 42%, and police are optimistic. “It’s not that the hate crimes are actually increasing,” explained Ken Smith from the Edmonton police department’s hate crimes unit. “People are feeling more comfortable reporting it.”

Indeed, hate crimes have been historically under-reported. According to a Statistics Canada survey from 2004, 60% of hate crime victims claimed that they didn’t bother reporting the incidents to the police. A change in this number is welcome news because it allows for more opportunities to catch the people who commit these crimes. This is particularly true with respect to GLBT victims, who are finally feeling safe enough to out themselves to the police and more confident that the police will help them.

GLBT victims, incidentally, need to report these incidents the most. The severest hate crimes—violent assaults—were committed against members of the GLBT community more often than any other identifiable minority, a disturbing trend.

Obviously there’s a lot of work to be done to improve things, but the most important step—reporting hate crimes when they happen—is already happening. So, while I’d be most happy if hate crimes stopped altogether as of last night (one can hope, right?), I take the latest statistics as an encouraging move toward a safer life for everyone.

Catholic School Tries To Muzzle Fired Trans Teacher

April 20th, 2011

In a scene like the matrix, an agent threatens to silence a trans teacher

Jan Buterman, a transgender substitute teacher, was fired from the St. Albert Catholic School Board back in 2009 for, well, being transgendered. “Since you made a personal choice to change your gender,” a termination letter delivered to Buterman stated, “we have to remove you from the substitute teacher list.”

Jan didn’t take this lightly, as you might imagine. Under threat of civil action, the school board has since offered a substantial settlement to avoid bringing the case to the courts or human rights tribunals. Included with the settlement, however, was a confidentiality agreement which would have forbidden Buterman to speak about his firing and the circumstances surrounding it.

Money in exchange for shutting up, eh? I wouldn’t have thought that was consistent with Catholic teachings, but there you go. I spent my entire grade school education within this very school board and they’re still teaching me new things. (Go, uh, Skyhawks, was it?)

Anyway, if it’s not already obvious by the mere fact we’re hearing this story, Jan is sticking to his principles and has soundly rejected the muzzling settlement. As a prominent trans activist, he said, it would be unacceptable to not be able to speak about the injustices people like him face.

It’s expected that Jan will now be off to the Alberta human rights commission next to have his case heard. Alberta’s human rights legislation is a little iffy in this area, as trans rights are not explicitly protected, so something tells me this won’t be the last time this story is featured on this site. Stay tuned!

Edmonton Schools Adopt Anti-Homophobia Policy

March 14th, 2011

In 2028, the city of Edmonton, having finally broken free, sailed the world.

Let’s start the week with some good news, why not?

The Edmonton Public School District has voted 8-1 to adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward homophobia in each of its schools, making it the first city in the province to officially take such a stance.

The new policy, which will now be researched and drafted by a committee, will ensure that GLBT students in Edmonton will have the support systems they need, and that GLBT staff cannot be discriminated against for their sexual orientation.

Edmonton has always been a little more forward-thinking than other cities in Alberta when it comes to equal rights for the GLBT community, having elected the provinces’ first gay politician (Michael Phair) in 1992, and generally supporting equal rights earlier than elsewhere in the province. It also produced me, Mark, which is very foward-thinking, if I may say so.

At any rate, congratulations Edmonton for supporting students’ rights and helping put an end to homophobic bullying! Here’s hoping other school boards follow suit.

Homophobic Baseball Manager Gets The Boot

August 11th, 2010

Umpire says he outed himself once, and can out others too

Gay people put up with a lot of abuse. Umpires, too. I imagine, then, it’s not easy being a gay umpire. Just ask Billy Van Raaphorst.

On July 31st, after two Edmonton players were tossed out for misbehaving at a minor league game, Van Raaphorst found himself enduring a spectacular assault by the team’s manager, Brent Bowers. The homophobic tirade, complete with slurs, obscenities, threats, and gestures involving grabbed ankles, shocked onlookers.

The scene was reportedly so offensive that other umpires refused to officiate games for the entire Golden Baseball League until Bowers was punished—which he was, late last week. Originally given an unsatisfactory two-day suspension, the league eventually decided upon a $5000 fine along with a suspension for the rest of the year. Bowers has since resigned.

Probably for the best, too. His team lost all three games that weekend, 3–2, 6–2, and 2–1. Ouch!

Teen Arrested In Edmonton Gay Bashing

April 28th, 2010

Father tells child that hating gays doesn't actually mean you should attack them. A mixed message.

A 31-year old lesbian was violently assaulted in Edmonton last week in what she and her friends are calling a hate-motivated attack. Shannon Barry required two facial plate implants to repair a broken jaw and crushed eye socket after being kicked in the face while her assailants shouted anti-gay slurs.

Thankfully, an arrest has now been made: A 14-year old boy who cannot be identified by police.

Personally, I find that age pretty shocking. Fourteen. Who and what could possibly influence a kid to assault a woman over twice his age? I mean, other than the religious figures, politicians, lobby groups, and other adult role models who routinely encourage an unnatural hatred toward an entire minority group.

Edmonton’s First Tory Pride Participant Mocks Event

June 24th, 2009

Actual photos from the parade

When Edmonton’s Pride Parade organisers invited Conservative MLA Doug Elniski to join in the festivities last week and be among the first-ever Tory participants, they probably hadn’t guessed he’d be Twittering and posting to his conservative blog at the same time. While waving to the crowd alongside three of his colleagues, Elniski proceeded to mock the event and its participants in real-time on his public Twitter account. Class act, that Doug!

While the controversial tweets have since been scrubbed clean and his entire blog has been deleted altogether (it hasn’t escaped Google’s cached copy, mind you), here are just a few of his observations:

i am surrounded by bumping and grinding lesbians waiit 20 then send help

i am certian that one is real those however i doubt

Darkest humor was either “Dyke’s on Bikes” or “Queers for Beers” the latter was a particular irony as most of the people in the beer garden were drinking pink coolers

I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO glad it did not rain, had it rained there would have been so much mascara, glitter and cake makeup on the roads we’d have needed one of those sweepers that follow the horses in the Capital Ex parade.

It was ‘just’ a parade, relax

It’s kind of a nice gesture simply joining the parade in the first place, but it’s disappointing for an invited participant to not acknowledge the meaning behind Pride parades. Contrary to what Doug wrote, it’s not “just a parade,” but also a celebration and protest in commemoration of a minority’s struggle. While I can’t blame Doug for revelling in the spectacle of some of the more flashy groups, I don’t think he cares much for the underlying purpose. An even more recent blog post of his directed toward young women has gotten some bad press, and reveals that he’s, sadly, pretty much just a creep:

Men are attracted to smiles, so smile and don’t give me that “treated equal” stuff, if you want equal it comes in little packages at Starbucks.

Yeah, who needs equality when we’ve got aspartame?

(Thanks to Tamara for sending this story along!)

Charitable Status Revoked From Gay Drop-In Centre

February 25th, 2009

The Wii in the lobby is really a training simulation.

The Pride Centre of Edmonton, a non-profit organisation featuring senior’s drop-in activities, a library, mentorship program, clothing bank and youth shelter, is in serious trouble. The centre, which relies entirely on donations, had its charitable status revoked in 2004 after being declared a political organisation by the federal government.

Jocylan McDonnell, one of the Price Centre’s board members, said that they have made a significant effort to be non-partisan. Still, despite relocating twice and replacing their board and administrators, it is now ineligable to issue tax receipts.

As Montreal Simon poignantly notes, gay seniors in particular have had to endure a lot—much more than younger generations can imagine—and they don’t often have access to the peer support that today’s youth does. A Gay senior’s drop-in centre is a place where they can socialize safely and openly, but Edmonton’s is at risk while harmful, vocal, and politically active anti-gay organisations such as Focus on the Family Canada and REAL Women of Canada are still permitted to accept tax deductable donations.

Something’s awry, don’t you think?

Unless… that crafty senior’s centre is up to something that we don’t know about yet; something sinister…

Guess Who’s Running For Mayor of Edmonton

June 22nd, 2007

Mayor Whatcott

Bill Whatcott, the male nurse who has dedicated his life to hysterically opposing gay rights, is running for mayor of Edmonton.

So what’s his top election issue? Timely road repairs? Discount transit fares for war veterans? Let’s take a look at his official platform’s opening paragraph:

As your mayor Bill Whatcott is committed to protecting Edmontonions from homofascism. Bill Whatcott loves children and he loves truth. He believes children have the God given right to have a mother and father and not have to be indoctrinated into embracing homosexuality by our public schools and media. […] Homosexuality is wrong and as your Mayor, Bill Whatcott is committed to denouncing homosexuality, warning young people about the consequences of indulging in the practice and calling on those trapped in the homosexual lifestyle to repentance, forgiveness and healing through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

Yes, that ought to resonate with the mainstream voter. Oh, and his campaign photo (I swear, this is all real) is a full-torso shot, arms folded behind the back for maximum legibility of his T-Shirt: “Sodomites will not inherit the kingdom of Heaven.”

Of course, though they may try, municipal leaders are about as powerful as multicoloured baby marshmallows when it comes to overriding civil rights. Given this, I think I’ll give Whatcott my full endorsement. Seriously, who’s in for a couple of years of hilarious “Edmonton’s frothy mayor” stories?

(A tip o’ the hat goes out to Pam Spaulding)

Magazine Names Canada’s 5 Gayest Cities

April 13th, 2007

Pro-Family Migration Patterns

Out Traveler, a gay and lesbian travel magazine, has named Canada’s top 5 gayest cities. While I’m not going to list them here, let’s just say that Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montréal should be expecting a few extra gay tourists this year! Wait, that might be a little too obvious. How about: Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal should be expecting a few fewer intolerant tourists this year. Yes, that’ll do.

As for my thoughts on the selections… Having grown up in Edmonton until my early 20s, I can authoritatively say: “Huh?” Mind you, things have probably changed in the city’s gay community, of which I knew pretty much nothing, having been closeted for the entire time. Plus, Edmonton still has the world’s largest shopping mall. That’s pretty gay, right?

So, congratulations to the cities that made the cut! And may all the ones that didn’t have an absolutely traditional Friday the 13th.

Cardston Crazies Still At It

October 18th, 2006

Mayor of Cardston

Well, after all the recent federal news, I think it’s about time I gave some attention to small town Alberta!

Remember Cardston (population: 3,500)? It’s the little town with big aspirations to ban same-sex marriage. Well, after the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass (population: 6000) refused to hear them out last April, they haven’t given up! In fact, they’ve taken their plea all the way to the capital city of Edmonton (population: 1,016,000)! Such a big trip!

The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association met in Edmonton earlier this month for their annual convention, and Cardston was more than thrilled to propose their ban in front of all the mayors in Alberta! Though, unfortunately for Cardston, Edmonton Councilor and AUMA Chairman Ed Gibbons just didn’t seem to want to discuss the proposal:

This is not the type of issue municipalities typically deal with, nor should they. Why are we talking about it at the convention?

Councilmen were also quick to point out that municipalities don’t have the authority to ban same-sex marriage, which is entirely federal jurisdiction.

Poor Cardston… You tried so hard. Oh well, I suppose there’s always next year’s conference!

Radio Station Weds Two Straight Guys

September 25th, 2006

Radio Contest Same-Sex Wedding

DJ Paul Brown, of the Edmonton radio station The Bear, has arranged for two straight male strangers to marry on the air. The stunt is part of the station’s annual Really Tough contest, where people compete in “un-manly” challenges for a chance at a $40,000 top prize. (Incidentally, a coin toss was used to decide who had to wear a tuxedo, and who had to wear a bridal gown.)

Now, personally, I can’t help but chuckle. I mean, the two guys obviously had a blast with the stunt, and really, it’s far more of a knock against the classic “tough guy” image than anything else. (Definitely something one would expect from a morning radio show.) But, gee… How do you think the brilliant scribes at The Edmonton SUN are reporting this?

The mind boggles at how this loophole can be milked for more than a radio-station contest.

You’re an older unmarried guy or gal without a pension? Marry your older friend, and get spousal pension benefits. You’re a visitor and you want to stay in Canada? Marry another man and he can sponsor you as a family member.

Free vote coming up on same-sex marriage, parliamentarians.

Oh, yes, right; this brand new “loophole” is going to be horrendously exploited! Hurry, parliamentarians, while you still can, vote to revoke equal marriage rights! After all, before same-sex marriage was legal in Canada, it was absolutely impossible for two strangers to marry. And marrying for pension or citizenship? A concept surely never conceived before these gays came along.

This will be the first time I’ve explicitly written this in a post, but: Slap!

Edmonton’s “Punch in the Face” Dress Code

April 24th, 2006

Things not to wear in Edmonton

Here’s an oldie: What do you get when you wear a fur coat, white jeans, suede boots, and a “Drama Queen” t-shirt to Edmonton’s Gay Pride Week celebrations? Give up? A punch in the face from a crazy, anti-gay stranger!

I wouldn’t bother holding for laughter on that “punchline.” It’s the brainchild of Nicolas Demers, a 19 year old anti-gay kook who pleaded guilty last week to punching a gay man in the face during Pride Week. Demers was caught after assaulting the man in City Hall last June, despite attempts to escape the building undetected. (Apparently, “cleverly” swapping t-shirts with a friend doesn’t fool today’s CSI-informed security guards.)

The motivation for this anti-gay attack was, well, spawned by irrational anti-gayness. “There should be a law against dressing like that,” Demers told security personnel, “He deserved to be punched.”

Happily, despite Demers’ “creative lobbying,” there aren’t any laws against dressing colourfully. Though, there are apparently laws against punching someone in the face. Sentencing begins this June.