Keep hatred out of school policy, please

love unites

The community I love has been engaged in emotional debate for the last several weeks over the treatment of gay students in our Catholic schools. There have been protests, meetings, letters to the editors and calls to radio hosts. Discussions have centered on whether a publicly funded school administration can be permitted to openly and actively encourage discrimination against some of its students.

The Bishop in charge of the school’s religious education program and guiding principles has published a document which was, until recently, posted on the school’s website. This document acts as a guide for teachers and school administration on homosexuality and the treatment of homosexual students.  It calls homosexual urges a “disorder” and labels homosexual acts an “intrinsic moral evil.” The Bishop said that  teachers are discouraged from using words like “gay,” and “lesbian,” and that a Gay-Straight Alliance isn’t allowed at the school.  A side effect of this policy has been plummeting morale amongst the school’s staff and students. Another impact, of course, is a sense of impunity for those keen to demonize young people who have identified as gay, or even those who just “seem gay”.

This  is all happening at the same time as the flood of equality messages and images, the anticipated decision to strike down Prop 8, the chorus of voices growing louder and louder reminding us that we are not allowed to teach children to hate… and yet, it’s still happening.

This is Canada. I know that in the US there are different ways of doing things, churches have different and perhaps greater powers than in Canada, but here, we separate church and state. If taxes are being used to fund a school, it has to teach in accordance with the laws of the land.

If you want an entirely faith based curriculum, then open a charter school. Charge tuition. Do not depend on the public purse.

I say all this, and even so… my daughter is enrolled in this school. Two of my three children have attended this high school. Confused? Yes, me too. My upbringing was Catholic, my husband’s Anglican, but neither of us are practicing, and we are not religious people. I have had occasional bursts of interest in attending church, but will confess the interest was largely social and based in a desire to create structure and community for my family.

When it was time for my kids to start school, the options were the nearest public school (at the time a poorly performing, underachieving school), french immersion (not our choice) or the Catholic school. The Catholic school had a wonderful principal, great morale, high achieving students, an inclusive philosophy and felt loving, warm and wonderful, so we chose it for our children.  Until very recently, the high school had the same warm and welcoming energy.  That changed with leadership changes in the school and in the church community.

As a result, gay students are now being targeted.  In one case, a locker was spray painted with the word FAG. The principal refused to investigate or seek to remedy the situation in any way. The newly “out” student was told if she didn’t like it, she could always change schools. So she did.  And then, as these things do, it all went public. And things have started to change, in a hurry.

I believe churches can teach what they believe. People can attend the church that best suits their belief system. Do I believe it’s okay to preach hate? Do I believe it’s okay to sanction looking the other way when acts of violence are perpetrated based on hatred? No. I understand that it’s a Catholic church, and the Catholic church does not support homosexuality or agree with same sex marriage. Fair enough. They don’t support pre-marital sex either, or birth control, but if a teenage girl gets pregnant, she is treated with  compassion and respect  while a homosexual student is not offered the same respect, or any reasonable protection from discrimination.

I know  several gay teachers within the Catholic schools in our city. We have, in our family, long questioned the morality of practicing a way of life in secret while teaching your students that your own way of life is wrong…is an intrinsic moral evil.  That, to me, is a hypocrisy so damaging it defies understanding.

Now, the government has stepped in and advised the school their policy must change, MUST align with Human Rights legislation in our Territory. The offensive policy has been removed from the school’s website.

But the young woman whose locker was spray painted, her dignity was rejected, her very self was dismissed and that’s not going to go away because a website administrator took a policy offline. And the other kids who have suffered similar insult and assault in that school, with the pervasive disregard for the rights of every single one of its students will not feel less harmed because now, finally, the policy is changing. And what about the kids who have been allowed to think that gay bashing, even in its more subtle forms, is okay? Who’s going to go in and reprogram them?

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Keep your opinions, Ugly Canadian!

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Image courtesy of Graeme MacKay,

I seem to have tangled myself up in a very heated debate with the American right wing, or at least a handful of folks who are pretty pissed that I chose to participate in a discussion that’s none of my business, being a Canadian and all. I responded to a post on a wordpress blog; the reblogging (I now understand) of a letter written by a marine to US Senator Dianne Feinstein. My comments were questioning the adamant refusal by so many in the US to register their weapons. I am one of those who supports the idea of a gun registry both in Canada and wherever guns are frequently in the hands of private citizens. It seems fair to me that, just as I register my dog, my car, and my trailer I should be willing to register a deadly weapon in my possession.

My comments were not appreciated, on any level. There is no debate. There can be no opposing views. There is no room for discussion or dissent. I should keep my $*#! socialist views to myself and keep my nose out of their country’s constitutional discussions. One comment urged me to get back to my Tim Horton’s and my maple syrup. Fair enough.

But it’s such a different way of viewing the world, so very different. Most Canadians I know are pretty engaged in what’s going on in the US as well as Canada. We feel invested in the political situation in the US and we have opinions about what we hear. So much of our media and culture are American that it’s sometimes hard to really draw a line between “us” and “them”.

So. I guess I’ll do my best to keep my views on this side of the border.

The US has fallen over the cliff. No, really.

fiscal cliff

Illustration by 731, courtesy of http://www.businessweek.com

I have heard the Republicans say they were victorious in recent days and I’ve heard folks saying the Democrats were successful. What a bunch of bull*#!&.  There have been talk shows, call in programs and pundits and so on pontificating and stringing yarn for days. What I just heard though made me really pissed off.

There’s a Republican on CBC now, Rand Paul from Kentucky. He argues against an increase in taxes on the wealthy because…as happened in Britain (he says)… THE RICH WILL JUST LEAVE THE COUNTRY. Are you kidding me? They’ll just take their toys and go home?! Oh for the love of dog give me a break.

This Canadian pays taxes. I think it’s fair that the more I earn, the more I pay. I wish it didn’t have to be so but hell….I like paved roads and public schools and my life saving Tommy Douglas-care. I think the Americans are starting to cannibalize themselves and it just makes me shake my head. Are you for real?

I know some of you are going to froth over this post. Not sorry. Somehow the idea of a leftist approach like sharing (!!!) makes a lot of Americans and somehow a lot of Christian Canadians nervous. Sharing, people. Just like your mama taught you. Share. SHARE.

Ommmmm. Time for a glass of wine and some camembert. I would share with you Americans, but French cheese isn’t allowed into the US. And you should be thankful that the French taxation system isn’t allowed in either.

Happy Thursday. Jeeeeeez.

Aside

Mr. Leef, do you have something to say?

Mr. Leef:
I heard you talking this morning on CBC radio at length about something very few Yukoners are discussing… mixed martial arts. What a waste of air time, what a waste of an opportunity. We Yukoners are talking about the China Investment Treaty, and we are talking about fracking. We are talking about your leader’s new omnibus bill. You knew we’d be talking about those things, you understand that the real issues are what concern us here and yet you avoid any opportunity to open the dialogue with us and instead of addressing the genuine concerns of your thoughtful constituency you talked about MMA… we don’t care about MMA.
We do care about our country, and our sovereignty and about the sneaky way that Mr. Harper keeps trying to trick us into swallowing dirty legislation.
You won’t likely have a second term and I’m sure you know it… perhaps that’s why you are so concerned about making sure you get your single issue dealt with this term. You are an invisible MP. I know you’ve been invited to many events where you simply haven’t appeared. I know a lot of Yukoners have waited to hear you speak about all these important issues. Instead, when we finally hear your voice, it’s about the one issue that moves you. MMA. How disappointing.
I hope you read the letter attached above, sent to Mr. Harper and ignored. I hope you make use of the many opportunities afforded you to communicate with your constituency in a meaningful way. I know we will listen with interest.
Sincerely,
Ranting Raver

Poverty & Homelessness Action Week October 15th to October 19th, 2012

October 15th – 21st, 2012

For immediate release

Poverty and Homelessness Action Week

Poverty and Homelessness Action Week (PHAW) 2012 is almost here. From Monday October 15th to Friday October 19th, the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition (YAPC) has planned numerous events and is inviting all community members to participate in any way they can.

In addition to our daily events we invite you to walk down Main Street to see the Guerilla Photography exhibit, browse the books and reports on display at the Whitehorse Library, and check out the beautiful images up at the Yukon Arts Centre. Support the CBC Sock Drive by dropping off new socks to the CBC office lobby and share the warmth by giving a warm winter coat to the Coast Mountain Share the Warmth campaign.

And, we will provide a box for donated Food Bank items at all of our events.

The following activities are planned for each of the different days of the week – each day focuses on a different issue related to poverty and homelessness.

Monday October 15, 2012: Mind the Gap

Poverty and Homelessness “Mind the Gap” Snapshot Update

The Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition will hold a press conference to begin Poverty and Homelessness Action Week with a snap-shot of statistics and information on what we know about poverty and homelessness in our community. Have we moved forward this past year in closing “gaps” and decreasing poverty and homelessness?

When: Monday October 17th, 10:00 am

Where: Welcome to Whitehorse sign at Millennium Trail near Robert Service Campground, Whitehorse

Contact: Kristina Craig, Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, 334.9317 or
Tracey Wallace, PHAW Coordinator, 335.4054

 

Tuesday October 16, 2012: World Food Day

Let’s Talk About Food Security

Come for lunch, conversation and learning on World Food Day.

Please RSVP to Tracey Wallace at tsoro@northwestel.net


When:
Tuesday October 16th, 12:00 noon

Where: Francophone Centre, 302 Strickland Street

Contact: Kristina Craig, Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, 334.9317 or
Tracey Wallace, PHAW Coordinator, 335.4054 or
Stephen Dunbar-Edge, Whitehorse Food Bank, 3932.265

 

Wednesday October 17, 2012: International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Outreach Van Tour
The Outreach Van provides vital services to street-involved people who are at risk. Come and talk to
the people who work on the van, and learn how the van supports people in our community.

When: Wednesday October 17th, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Where: Main Street (cnr 3rd and Main), at the Clock

Contact: Beckie Huston, Outreach Van Coordinator, 667.2970 x 240 / 334.1650

 

Speaking Event: Now’s the Time: The case for leadership and collaboration in ending poverty
Rob Rainer of Canada Without Poverty will be in Whitehorse as a special guest speaker for Poverty and Homelessness Action Week. Rob will speak about the pressing need for leadership and collaboration in ending poverty in Yukon.

When: Wednesday October 17th, 2012, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Where: Sacred Heart Cathedral, CYO Hall, cnr 4th and Steele

Contact: Kristina Craig, Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, 334.9317 or
Tracey Wallace, PHAW Coordinator, 335.4054

 

Thursday October 18, 2012: Dignity

Whitehorse Connects
Whitehorse Connects is an opportunity for those who are homeless, living in poverty or among the working poor to come together on a given day for a range of health and human services they may not otherwise access.

When: Thursday October 18th, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

Where: Old Fire Hall, 1st and Main St

Contact: Kim Winnicky

Friday October 19, 2012: Building Community

Linking Hands along the Millennium Trail
Come and join your community in linking hands to “Close the Gap”.

When: Friday October 19th, 12:00 pm

Where: Meet at the SS Klondike, to link hands along the Millennium Trail

Contact: Tracey Wallace, PHAW Coordinator, 335.4054 or Scott Carlson, BYTE, 667.7975

 

Blood Ties Four Directions Open House
Come and meet the Blood Ties staff, learn about their important programs and how they are making a difference in our community.

When: Friday October 19th, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Where: Blood Ties Four Directions, 307 Strickland Street

Contact: Heather Ashthorne, Blood Ties, 633.2437 x 25