Premier Dalton McGuinty just announced that under new anti-bullying legistlation, students will be able to set up gay-straight alliance clubs (though the name may be different) in ALL public schools in Ontario.
“We’re going to require that, at every school where students request that this be put in place, they be permitted to organize themselves with a gay-straight alliance.”
It will come as no shock that various religious groups are unhappy about this.
Charles McVety, of the Institute for Canadian Values, stated, “To force, especially Christian classrooms or schools, to have homosexual clubs would of course be an affront to their family values.”
What about the affront to those students that have identified themselves as gay or bisexual or transgendered or… (possibly coming from religious homes themselves) and are struggling desperately to be accepted both within their familes and within their peer group? Don’t they have rights too?
McVety went on to add:
“And what does this have to do with bullying? Nothing.”
Ummm… because gay kids don’t get bullied, right? Or is it possible that he could be implying that when you make fun of, harass, beat, or torment a student who has identified as being gay, that’s different than “real” bullying of an innocent child?This particular news article has a lot of other “inspiring” quotes from the religious in case the one above isn’t enough.
It is my understanding that this anti-bullying legislation encompasses more than just the requirement that students be permitted to form these groups if they so choose. It also allows schools to permanently expel students for bullying behaviours, rather than just being limited to suspensions. This is the most severe act a school can take and the message is clear…bullying is NOT acceptable. Period.
There also apparently is information in the legislation broadening the definition of gender and sexual identity, something that has the religious groups blowing smoke out of their ears. Having not read the legislation myself, I’m hesitant to comment about specifics, but I think it’s about time that sexuality and gender were acknowledged as more of a continuum rather than a black and white concept.
Bullying is a HUGE issue everywhere and many attempts are being made around the country to address this issue and now it’s coming from the top.
“We’re taking policies with respect to bullying and giving them the force of law by introducing those by means of a bill and ensuring that boards must take concrete steps when it comes to preventing, intervening and applying progressive consequences…”
Well good for you McGuinty! I’m sure students around the province of Ontario are thanking you today, regardless of their sexual orientation.