I received a letter home from school last week. In this letter I was asked to support a protest against Manitoba’s new Anti Bullying legislation. I cannot be quiet on this subject. It is too important and I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY!

This letter was sent today;

Mr. Principal,

I am writing to you to express concern over your stance on Bill 18. I get the feeling that you are focusing on the same small point in the bill that the church in Steinbach is, based on your sentence “Bill 18 also has the potential to compromise religious freedom for independent schools by requiring us to promote values that contradict our statement of faith.” My concern is that you are acting as a poor example by not accepting that LGBT people are equal in the eyes of God and society.

Religious freedom should not be used as an excuse to promote hatred or intolerance. I believe that God also loves the members of my family that are gay and lesbian.

I have re-registered our son for the next year as I do believe that the positives in the school outweigh the negatives, but we are having ongoing talks with him regarding the differences between FACTS and OPINIONS. I would ask you to keep your opinions to yourself that some members of his family are not valued in the same way that his more “acceptable” relatives are.

You encourage me, in the letter to visit a website (protectourschools.ca) that states that my “values and beliefs are in direct contradiction to the teachings” of the school, simply because I choose not to exclude people in my life based on who they love. I would argue that who you love is no concern to God, only that you respect yourself and others. Obviously I would not try to change your OPINION on this, but I will also ask you to respect the FACT that even in communities of faith there are LGBT people who are worthy of love and respect.

How you judge people in your heart must not be presented as fact to our children. To do so teaches our children to hate, and there is enough of that in this world without our children being taught it in school. I chose our school because of it’s message of love and the difference I felt in the school from the punishing view of religion that is in my Mennonite heritage.

From reading in the news, the problem that religious schools have with Bill 18 seems to stem from an unnatural focus on the sexuality of students. What is not reported is that the bill is to protect everyone;

Regard for principles of human rights

41(1.7) In preparing its respect for human diversity policy, a school board must have due regard for the principles of The Human Rights Code.

Student activities and organizations

41(1.8) A respect from human diversity policy must accommodate pupils who want to establish and lead activities and organizations that

(a) promote

(i) gender equity,

(ii) antiracism,

(iii) the awareness and understanding of, and respect for, people who are disabled by barriers, or

(iv) the awareness and understanding of, and respect for, people of all sexual orientations and gender identities; and

(b) use the name “gay-straight alliance” or any other name that is consistent with the promotion of a positive school environment that is inclusive and accepting of all pupils.

The above quote from the bill is what is being discussed, but only because they chose to use “gay-straight alliance” instead of using “able-disabled alliance” or “black-white-yellow-red alliance”. Those other potential groups sound pointless and ridiculous, as hating people for their disability or the colour of their skin are unthinkable in my world, as should be judging people for who they choose to spend their lives loving. The only people making the bill into a “gay issue” is the church.

I was bullied mercilessly in school. It had nothing to do with the colour of my skin or my sexual orientation. I have scars over scars on my knees and legs from being pushed down over and over again. I carry the emotional scars of a decade of misery in the public school system.

I was so proud of our school when, in the first week of Kindergarten our son was chased into the washroom by a bully and the principal ran right in there and stopped the child from scaring my son.

I am not proud of the fact that you are now trying to stand in the way of important legislation that can protect our children at a time of their lives when they are so vulnerable and their sense of self-worth is being shaped and set.

I am cc’ing this letter to the School Board as well as Matt Wiebe, our MLA to let them know my strong feelings on this issue.

Again, I please beg you to be aware of the difference between Facts and Opinions when our children are entrusted into your hands.

Shawna Taubner

Advertisements