How could we forget the very first awkward Sex Education class we had in school that included curiosity, chatter, and a large amount of giggling. As awkward as it may have seemed, it was an open space to talk and learn about issues related to sex and body image. When it comes to homophobia and bullying (both prominent issues facing today’s youth, especially queer youth) there is a call for a similar space for open discussion.
On June 14th, the Burnaby Board of Education will vote onÂ Policy #5.45, otherwise known to the public asÂ “The Homophobia/Heterosexism Policy.”Â The document was drafted over a span of two years, and has been open to public input in the past 14 weeks; however, the process has taken much longer than anyone had anticipated. Considering the fact that homosexuality has become less of a taboo in the time and place of this situation, why has the policy not been passed yet? Turns out, at the root of its opposition is a group of very unyielding parents.
In short, the policy addresses homophobic bullying in schools. The Burnaby School District would provide material for teachers to instruct students to foster an understanding of and to respect queer students. A group called Parents’ Voice (who have already held several rallies) however, saw it as a means of promoting homosexuality, and even going a step further as to calling it dogma. To counter this accusation, at a recent policy committee meeting, the Superintendent of Burnaby’s Board of Education stated that “this policy does not affect the role of parents to raise their children according to their values and beliefs…[t]he intent of this policy is to make our schools safe and welcoming places for all students.”
Can only one side of the argument be true, or do both sides have a point? Does it really matter? All this point-counterpoint is moot. In the grand scheme of things, the issue at hand should be how to help these victims of bullying because of their sexual orientation. The argument should focus on how to raise awareness about the topic, but at the same time fully cater to students. Of course, it’s saddening that we even need a policy to protect students. But if it gets one more child to change his or her mind about homophobia, one more child will stop being bullied.
And what about the apprehensive parents? Take it as a personal opinion, but children do not learn to be gay at school.
photo credit:Â jglsongs
Aside from Avatar and Inception, there were plenty of well-done and thought-provoking independent films playing at the 22nd annual Vancouver Queer Film Festival from August 12th-22nd. The Queer Film Fest began in 1989 and continued this year showing a diverse selection of films and opportunities to meet filmmakers, artists, participate in workshops, panel discussions, and attend galas and after parties.