How ironic that this week, when Obama gently but publicly concluded, in well thought out tones, that committed same sex couples ought to have the right to marry, our provincial conservative politicians voted against a Liberal government bill requiring school boards to back student requests for GSA support groups.
What message are these leaders sending our already-disenfranchised youth?
Your bullies and tormentors are right, you ARE a freak,
and not even school -- especially not school -- is a safe haven!
Interestingly, as part of some ministry training about a teacher leadership and learning project I am involved in for next year, I had an opportunity to hear a participant from previous years speak on her team’s project, OPSTA.com. This passionate, articulate and incredibly dedicated teacher shared with us a very poignent story of an auto shop teacher who set aside his intended lesson one afternoon to deal with a “that’s so gay” comment uttered in his class.
Within hours of the end of class, he found a handwritten note from one of his students on his desk. It read:
GSAs allow for the formation of a fellowship where LGBTQ and straight youth can build bridges and alliances with one another, seeking to learn from the other, and working together to create safe, positive spaces where all students can learn and grow, rather than feel threatened by homophobic and/or transphobic bullying. The issue is not “let’s talk about sex”, the issue is “let’s talk about how we can solve our problems, and make the school a better place”. (As a side note for my Christian friends, isn't this what Jesus modelled? Talking with and loving those whom others cast aside?)
Alas, it seems Martin Regg Cohen, in his recent Toronto Star coverage of the PC’s unfriendliness, has a firm grasp on the opposition’s perspective:
“They can’t fathom the notion of fellowship clubs where straight kids can commiserate with gay kids about bullying. Instead, they fantasize about homosexual seduction scenes and wild orgies conducted under a teacher’s supervision on school property.”
Again I am reminded of people’s general misunderstanding of sexual orientation and gender identity issues.
Of course these people have sex (just as do straight folks, imagine!), but to think that sex is the very essence of who they are is as prejudicial as stereotyping young black men as drug dealers and rapists. I know some gay people… they do laundry sometimes, write blogs, volunteer at the food bank, get their cars fixed, go grocery shopping, and even pick up their kids from school!
Well, at least the ones who weren’t harassed and bullied and tortured to the point of suicide before they had a chance to grow up into loving, contributing adult members of society.