Anti-Gay Parents Protest School Non-Discrimination Policy
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.”
- Parents protest new gay-friendly policy for Burnaby schools [Vancouver Sun]