OK, kiddo! Here are all the fantastically amazing posts tagged with Schools
The lengths people go to in order to stop gay people from enjoying their life…
Thomas Amons, a principal for the Beaumont Independent School District’s Taylor Career and Technology Center in Texas, has canceled an entire cosmetology course rather than let a student whom he thought was gay take it.
Cequada Clark, the course instructor, said that Amons had asked her to kick out the student because he seemed “flamboyantly gay,” but she refused for moral reasons. Undeterred, the principal then consulted BISD’s legal team to see if it would be possible to prevent the student from enrolling due to his sexual orientation. When the “no” response came back the next day, Amons shut down the entire course and Ms. Clark was fired.
Well, that’s a little drastic, wouldn’t you think? After all, from the school’s perspective, gay money works the same as straight money. If anything, money from a gay cosmetology enthusiast might even smell nicer and have fewer creases.
- Sexuality the deciding factor in program’s closure [The Examiner]
A group calling itself the “Parental Rights in Education Defense Fund” along with an anonymous “beleaguered parent” is suing the Ontario school system for not providing advance notice of gay subject matter.
“The parent seeks nothing more than to be given advance notice so that he can [...] withdraw his children before the lesson,” the group announced on Friday.
While the press release itself didn’t mention gay issues specifically, the newly-formed group’s website obsesses over the topic almost exclusively, also establishing their opposition to “misguided” Gay-Straight Alliances, and any book written by GLBT authors.
Say, isn’t it odd that the same groups who often demand schools “teach the controversy” when it comes to learning about evolution and other scientific progresses, are so quick to censor and block other material? I spent my entire grade school education in the Catholic school system where gay topics were never discussed, probably on purpose. The only thing that withholding this information did for gay students like me was leave us uninformed and ignorant for many years before having to find out what we needed to know on our own from an uneven selection of reliable and unreliable sources.
At any rate, I want to offer a thought to this parent. Since he has chosen to sue the school board anonymously, let’s refer to him as Count Moriarty Von Jafar IV.
Mr. Moriarty Von Jafar, expose your kids to as many ideas as possible and stop presuming ownership over their minds. By all means, introduce them to your own ideas (and trust me, there’s plenty of time to teach your kids your own ideas; they don’t have to always hear your worldview first), but have the responsibility to let them discover ideas you don’t particularly like. Shielding them from a world you don’t always see eye-to-eye with is a complete impossibility, and that’s a wonderful thing. The less sheltered and more challenged a mind is, the more resilient and capable it becomes.
I admit it. I jumped the gun with my Congratulalien last year. When the Ontario government announced that all schools—including Catholic schools—must allow the formation of student-run GLBT support groups, I took that to mean students would finally be getting Gay-Straight Alliances, a proven strategy to improve student safety and reduce instances of teen suicide due to bullying. Having endured twelve years of Catholic schooling myself, I perhaps should have been able to predict what happened instead. While students weren’t explicitly denied support groups, the Catholic school board forbade these groups from being called GSAs and continued to meddle with their direction. When students requested a GSA, they were forced to accept a strange replacement—generic support groups where any discussion of gay issues would be ostensibly halted as being not inclusive enough.
Last week, after substantial pressure (and a tad more controversy than I’d expect in this decade), the Ontario government introduced a bill that unambiguously mandates GSAs in any school where students request one. That includes the name and direction that it implies. With all indications pointing toward a speedy passage, I hope that I’m not premature in issuing a most sincere Condraculations!
A crowd of about 200 appeared in Queen’s Park, Ontario yesterday, protesting provincial legislation that will help eliminate anti-gay bullying in schools. This rally also marked the unveiling of some brand new terminology to be used by the anti-gay lobby, as a spokesperson began referring to Gay-Straight Alliances as “homosexual sex clubs.” The protesters then unexpectedly switched topics to rally against school-time “kidnapping, murder, and treason gangs,” previously known as chess clubs.
Two fifth grade teachers at West Park School in Altona, Manitoba are being demanded by parents to remove cards from their classrooms indicating that they have completed training on how to support GLBT youth.
Stephanie Fortier and Peter Wohlgemut had voluntarily taken training sessions from the Rainbow Resource Center in Winnipeg and received display cards that will let GLBT students know they have an adult to confide in, should they ever need their support. The cards, which feature a rainbow flag with the word “Ally” printed over it, include the following pledge:
As an Ally, I envision a society that embraces, values and celebrates diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.
As an Ally, I support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two-Spirit, intersex, queer, and questioning individuals, families, and communities.
As an Ally, I work towards a more aware, affirming, safe and open work environment in both policy and practice.
As an Ally, I acknowledge that creating a safe space is an unwavering process that requires productive commitment, re-assessment, and dedication.
As an Ally, I am committed to the elimination of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and heterosexism as well as other forms of oppression.
I participated [in] a Rainbow Resource Centre LGBTT Ally Training session and completed ___ hours of training in the year.
A number of parents subsequently freaked out.
“We have to sign hundreds of petitions to allow religious exercises in school,” Kim Peters Sawatzky, a parent at the school, told the media. “We should treat this situation in the same way, as it seems to be just as controversial.”
School officials say they’ve had a “steady stream” of requests to remove the cards. So, in an attempt to diffuse the parental panic, they decided to take some scissors to the cards so that only the rainbow flag with the word “Ally” remains, excluding the text of the pledge entirely. Not good enough for several of the parents, though, who are still adamant that the cards be removed entirely.
“I would like to have the choice of how I choose to teach my children about these words and what they mean,” MS. Peters Sawatzky continued.
What? “Ally?” That’s the only word left on the card to explain.
Not that the card did anything to prevent anyone from inserting whichever wacky definitions one wishes for these terms. In fact, I offer this challenge to any parent upset by these cards: Take your child aside, sit him or her on your lap, and define the following word: Ally (n.): An edible alien garment, used exclusively by members of the Zerphblangipod society of emu-wranglers on the planet Earth 2, located, by coincidence, precisely 3.14159265 light years from the home of Ms. Peters Sawatzky of Altona, Manitoba.
If, after reading this definition, an Ally card flies off the wall of Ms. Fortier’s fifth grade classroom and shoots gamma radiation into your eyes, then I will bake you a cookie. Otherwise, kindly chill the heck out and let the teachers tell gay students they’ve got some support.
- Parents peeved over cards supporting gay youth [Toronto SUN]
Looks like Ontario may need to go to Newfoundland for some schooling on schooling. Clyde Jackman, Newfoundland’s education minister, just announced MyGSA, a $90,000 fund to help support the establishment of Gay-Straight Alliances. And it’s available to all schools offering grades 7 to 12. Cool stuff! It’s about time tha—Hey, McGuinty! Pay attention! Is that gum?
Ken Denike and Sophia Woo, two trustees at the Vancouver School Board, were publicly reprimanded last week after misrepresenting the school board’s anti-homophobia policy.
The trustees were already the focus of some controversy when a video surfaced online showing them talking to supporters before last November’s elections. In the video, Denike and Woo claimed that the Vancouver School Board was about to amend their anti-bullying policies with controversial new measures regarding sexual orientation, bringing it in line with a “much worse” one in Burnaby. The best way to stop this contentious policy, they said, was to vote for them.
There was a little problem with this claim, mind you: Anti-homophobia measures had been added to the Vancouver School Board’s policies on bullying seven years earlier, in 2004.
This video couldn’t have surfaced at a worse time for Denike and Woo, who were already in a bit of hot water for appearing in a separate video for the National Organization for Marriage, one of the United State’s largest and most powerful anti-gay lobby groups. In a documentary-style spot posted on the NOM website, the two trustees spoke to cameras on school board property, implying that same-sex marriage had resulted in gay pornography being shown to schoolchildren.
Uh… Same-sex marriage caused gay porn to be shown to schoolchildren? Let’s reflect a moment on the likelihood of that being true.
Well, if you’re of sound mind (NOM supporters clearly excluded), you’ve come to the correct conclusion: No such repulsiveness ever happened (nor could it; it’s absurd). In reality, a third-party website address listed in a printed teacher’s resource booklet had sponsored a provocative and sexually suggestive public service announcement intended to help increase HIV testing in the adult gay community. The web address, which was never provided to students directly, was later removed from the booklet.
To his credit, Denike claims that the National Organization for Marriage had misled him and used his expression of concerns about the teacher’s resource booklet completely out of context. (I’d say!) He later had the video pulled from NOM’s site through legal action.
Now, did Mr. Denike and Madam Woo deserve to be publicly condemned by the board for these videos? Considering they essentially lied about the board’s policy in order to get votes, I’d say that’s an appropriate action.
Denike and Woo, humbled by the censure, have since apologized for misrepresenting the school board’s policies and are now focusing on more important issues…
Nah! I’m totally kidding. Refusing to apologise, Denike actually told the media that the censure has “impacted [his] human rights” and that he’s speaking with his lawyers. Stay tuned, kids! This might be a long one.
(Hat tip to the especially amazing Ryan Clayton for the story.)
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.
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!
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.
Flour Bluff Intermediate School—a high school in Corpus Christi, Texas—has shut down all its extracurricular clubs after a student requested the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance, a peer support group that encourages tolerance and anti-bullying initiatives.
The insane move, which has effectively terminated otherwise unrelated clubs such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, was taken by the school administration as a means of banning GSAs without penalty from the Equal Access Act, which would have required the school to provide equal opportunities for student-run clubs, “regardless of their religious, political, and philosophical leanings.”
Well, I guess banning all extracurricular clubs is one way to ensure equality, Texas style!
The Halton Catholic School Board received a lot of flack this year over banning Gay-Straight Alliances—important peer support systems—in their school system. “We don’t have Nazi groups either,” a representative told the media back in January.
Gay-Straight Alliances are recommended by the Ontario Ministry of Education as a proven means of improving the life of gay youth, giving closeted teens visible role models and support, helping to eliminate homophobic bullying, and reducing instances of teen suicide.
The successes of GSAs made the Halton board’s GSA ban particularly difficult to justify. Faced with a lot of negative media attention over this and its “Nazi” remark, the Halton school board soon announced that they would be introducing a new policy.
Well, that new policy is here. On Wednesday, by a 6 – 3 vote, the school board has re-banned GSAs.
In lieu of GSAs, though, they’ve decided to set up SIDE spaces, a quickly conceived backronym that stands for Safety, Inclusivity, Diversity, and Equity. Essentially, SIDE spaces are support groups designated as safe for everyone, not just gay students.
Now, encouraging safety, inclusivity, diversity, and equity is very important, of course; all schools should do that. But let’s not lose sight of the issue here. SIDE spaces are a solution to a different problem. For a support group to be at all effective, it requires peers facing similar—if not identical—issues. Generic “everyone’s welcome!” support groups are not only an ill replacement for GSAs, they were created expressly to make a ban on GSAs more palatable by offering a substitute that ostensibly includes gay students without the visibility. Denying this visibility sends a message that GLBT students should stay hidden, and denies a place where GLBT students can discuss issues specific to them among peers who are guaranteed to be receptive.
So Boo on the Halton Catholic School Board for completely SIDE-stepping the issue.
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board is handing out surveys to each of its students in grades 7 to 12, asking—among other things—whether or not they’re gay.
The survey, which is not anonymous, specifically asks “How do you identify your sexual orientation?” The offered choices include: “Bisexual, Gay (male), Heterosexual (straight), Lesbian (female), Queer, Questioning, Transsexual, Two-spirited,” and “Prefer not to disclose.”
The school board says that knowing the diversity of students will help them correlate it with other data and decide which support avenues and other programs are required.
Well, their heart’s in the right place, even if their brain is locked in a committee meeting room, sipping coffee below buzzing fluorescent lights, contemplating even more excruciatingly dull forms for other people to suffer through.
Here’s my beef with the survey question. Even if every student answers honestly—and they won’t; I wouldn’t have in grade 7—it doesn’t take a survey to conclude that there are gay students in the system that have unique needs to be addressed through support programs. Gay people represent a consistent proportion of the population, they generally have a harder time fitting in at school, they’re more likely to be bullied, and they very much dislike filling out stupid forms. Help ‘em out, Ottawa-Careton District School Board!
In the wake of four student suicides egged on by homophobic bullying, Exodus Global Alliance has abandoned an anti-gay school program dubbed the Day of Truth.
Since 2005, The Day of Truth took place every year in schools across North America—strategically scheduled to occur one day after the Day of Silence, an anti-bullying campaign designed to draw attention to how gay students must live in silence and fear to avoid harassment. “I’m speaking the truth to break the silence,” Exodus’ pamphelts read, “Exodus network is mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality.” (Emphasis theirs.)
While Exodus took over the campaign in 2009, it was originally started by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian-funded legal group who unsuccessfully brought a school to court for suspending a student who wore a disruptive T-Shirt. “Be Ashamed,” it said. “Homosexuality is Shameful.”
It’s not surprising that Exodus wanted to take over the campaign so eagerly; it meshes with their mission perfectly. Exodus’ whole purpose is to promote the idea that gay people are morally corrupt, but can change through prayer and reparative therapy—a notion flatly rejected by all medical and psychological associations. Schools were also beginning to actively reject this message, having seen first-hand the dire harm that suppression and silence does to gay students.
As programs like the Day of Silence grew in popularity, Exodus felt more and more undermined by their effectiveness. Threatened, they lept at the opportunity to bring their unscientific message to schools, providing materials and instruction to schools across the continent. Their efforts immediately enabled bullies with anti-gay slogans and provided adult permission to spread messages of intolerance and shame, adding to the oppression and silence that gays already felt every day. It carefully nurtured the environment in which gay students felt so ashamed and hopeless that some would resort to suicide.
Fortunately, the Day of Truth is not happening this year. At least, not under the supervision of Exodus, who announced their abandonment of the campaign this week. The timing is not a coincidence, either. Just three weeks ago, four students killed themselves in separate incidents, unable to bear the harassment of their classmates. Candelight vigils were held in cities across the U.S. and Canada on Wednesday, and a successful online campaign has received hundreds of thousand of views, urging bullied students to keep hope that things will get better. Faced with growing outrage over the sentiment that they were actively promoting, Exodus had no choice but to end their management of the campaign. They offered no apology or regret, though, and their Day of Truth website now leaves a simple message thanking everyone who participated.
Exodus continues to feign compassion where convenient, but still heartily maintains that gay people are inherently evil and should be subjected to defunct therapies. They are still responsible for the attrocious Love Won Out conference, and for the incalculable misery of those subjected to their unscientific practices. And as long as they can spread this message, their affiliated lobby groups—to whom they ultimately answer—can point to Exodus as evidence that gay people don’t actually exist and therefore don’t need equal rights protections in the law.
Exodus Global Alliance is a registered charity in Canada, and the focus of a campaign I’ve started to help put an end to their tax benefits. Homosexuality is not a disease; it’s not changeable; it does not need to be changed; and no medical or psychological association supports what Exodus is doing. Help put an end to phony charities in Canada and Slap into Action.
Oakleigh Marshall, a high school senior in Muskegon, Michegan, was voted homecoming king by his classmates only to have the honour revoked by the school because he is transgendered.
Oak, as he is known to classmates, fully identifies as male. All of his teachers use masculine pronouns, he wears a male school band uniform, and will be wearing a male graduation robe when he graduates this year. After being voted as homecoming king by his classmates, though, the school invalidated the ballots and assigned the runner-up as homecoming king instead.
Todd Geerlings, the Assistant Superintendent, said that the school’s decision to invalidate the classmates’ votes was simple because Oakleigh was enrolled in school as a girl, and girls can’t be homecoming king. Oak’s friends and classmates have since set up a Facebook page entitled “Oak is My King,” protesting the school’s decision.
Speaking to the press, Oak expressed that he was happy with all of his friends’ support, but was disappointed at not having something tangible. “I don’t see why there’s any reasons why someone who’s different shouldn’t be on court,” he said. “I have just as much qualifications as anyone else in school.”
Well put. Here’s hoping the school reconsiders their decision, or at least issues an apology.
Special thanks to Slap reader Rebel Jackson for the story!
- Transgender senior can’t be king [WOOD 8]