YOU LEFTIES HAVE SHOT YOURSELVES IN THE FOOT WITH THIS ONE…SO PICK NOW, WHAT’S MORE IMPORTANT? PUSHING THE GAY AGENDA OR PUSHING THE “ISLAM IS PEACE” MANTRA?????
School policy to combat gay discrimination draws protest
Janet Steffenhagen, Postmedia News · May 10, 2011 | Last Updated: May 10, 2011 7:09 AM ET
VANCOUVER — A group of B.C. parents plans to protest Tuesday a policy proposed by the Burnaby school district to combat discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.
While agreeing there are serious issues to be addressed, many parents say they are angry at the board of education for not consulting them while developing the contentious policy and have not been given enough information to understand what their students will be taught about homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism.
“[There] appears to be a lack of transparency,” said James Gray, whose children are in Grades 4 and 6. “Many, if not most of the parents that I’ve talked with feel that they’ve been blindsided by this process.”
Although the policy was two years in the making, the board did not send notices home and many parents didn’t find out about it until last month.
Mr. Gray said he was appalled to learn that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students are 16 times more likely to commit suicide than straight students. “Having a suicide rate like that is absolutely unacceptable and there must be a way to find a solution,” he said.
But that must be done through adult discussions, not with a policy that sexualizes schools, he added.
“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 is none of their business and adults must never look at my children that way.”
Daud Ismail, past-president of the B.C. Muslim Association, said he will attend the rally Tuesday and plans to speak to a board meeting that follows, stressing the need to develop policy that respects the rights of everyone, not just a single group. “We need to come up with a policy that’s acceptable to everybody.”
Asked what he would change about the proposed policy, he said it’s difficult to make suggestions because the wording is vague and the district has not released any teaching materials that might accompany the policy.
“Why is there so much secrecy?” he said. “Let’s bring it out in the open and have an open discussion.”
For example, in discussing student programs, the policy says: “Teachers shall be encouraged to embed and integrate LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit and queer) issues into existing curriculum in age-appropriate ways to help students acquire the skills and knowledge to understand the impacts of homophobia and transphobia upon society.”
Mr. Gray said a parent might interpret that differently than an activist teacher.
The policy also decries heterosexism, which it says is the mistaken belief that all people are heterosexual and that heterosexuality is superior and the norm. “Heterosexism perpetuates negative stereotypes and is dangerous to individuals and communities,” it says.
Another parent, Heather Leung, told a board meeting that the policy is a “deliberate and systematic strategy to indoctrinate our children with a controversial moral teaching that should be left for families to decide on and wrestle through.”
She said she was speaking on behalf of thousands of immigrant parents in demanding that the board translate its policy into different languages and let Burnaby parents decide.
A poster announcing Tuesday’s rally suggests a section of the policy amounts to bullying of children from families with traditional views about family, marriage and sex.
“No child should be singled out for affirming a belief contrary to that of her peers,” it says.
Members of Burnaby’s Willingdon church -the largest in the province -are also protesting the policy.
Larry Hayes, chairman of the board of education, was not immediately available for comment.
The district has been receiving a flood of emails from those who oppose and support the policy, a spokeswoman said, and efforts are underway to translate the relevant materials into other languages.