I promised some of the speeches from the last school board meeting on policy 5.45, the school district's anti-homophobia policy. Click here for an earlier story. (Note: the policy was already passed by the board but is still subject to public input and final approval.) There were nine presentations to the board, some for and some against. I'm posting four here, but all separately. This is the raw, unedited version...
Date: Wed, 25 May 2011 19:11:38 -0700
Subject: Why do we oppose policy 5.45
I did a presentation on May 24 at Burnaby School Board meeting. I want more people know why we are opposing this policy. There is some misunderstanding about the policy and about the concerned parents and students who oppose this policy. I edited my presentation into letter. Kindly check the attached. Should you have any question, please feel free to contact me. Thank you Burnaby Now to keep everybody informed about what's going on regarding our community. Wish Burnaby Now every success.
I would like to share my views and concerns regarding Policy 5.45.
Let’s start with something all of us can agree on: nobody should be bullied. It’s a good idea to teach students—from a young age—to be good citizens… which includes treating others with respect, in words and deeds.So far, I believe we have common ground with those who support this policy. Now: what’s the best way to achieve this noble goal? I am so grateful to find out that Burnaby School board already addressed this issue in its Code of Conduct.
QUOTE "The following behaviour are considered unacceptable:
Engaging in acts of bullying, harassment, intimidation, retaliation, discrimination and/or violence
Being disrespectful or using threatening language or behaviors.
All members of the school community are expected to comply with the purpose and spirit of the BC Human Rights code, including not engaging in discriminatory conduct on the basis of gender, race, color, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status physical, mental disability or sexual orientation. END OF QUOTE
Does this code of conduct missing something? Like sexual orientation? No. This Code of Conduct clearly addressed the discrimination and bully against sexual orientation as unacceptable.And please look at this, which is in the same code of conduct, "Every effort to support individuals and to determine the root causes of behavior will be made."
So the question is: why do we need two policies to address discrimination and bully against sexual orientation? We want BSB to show us the specific data that supports here in Burnaby School District that we need to highlight the LGBTQ group.
Next, let's look at policy 5.45 carefully. I have learned from the Parent’s Voice that requests for additional information to understand the full and serious implications of draft policy 5.45 and they have not received an adequate response from Burnaby School Trustees. Furthermore, school trustees have stated they will not accept public input after an imposed June 03 deadline." The board states the policy has been going on for 2 years but only allow the public, including student and parents, to have one month's time for input without adequate background info. My question is why in such hurry while the policy has raised so much questions and confusions from the public? For example: Teachers are encouraged to embed and integrate LGBTQ issues into existing curriculum in age-appropriate ways.
What kind of LGBTQ issues would be embedded in to existing curriculum? The BCTF per their website flyer,: “DayOfPinkSecondary.pdf, suggests to teachers, “Show the film Milk or Brokeback Mountain to your class, and discuss how homophobia affected the central character’s life. I am told that in this film there are graphic scenes of homosexual men having sex. Is this the kind of LGBTQ material that Burnaby Schools intend to add to the curriculum of our high school children?
Has Burnaby School Board done any literature review as to what is the appropriate age to introduce such to school students? Is there any related academic study/report reviewed? Why can't school board provide information as required? Well there is no reply from School Board yet.
Furthermore, per the Feb 22 Board of Education minutes, the Burnaby School Board has “approved the formation of a 17 person standing committee”. This appears to be the continuation of this the LGBTQ Ad-Hoc committee, on a permanent basis! The Burnaby School Board appears to be very secretive about this committee, and has not included information about this new committee in their website’s recently added “background information” section. As far as I can tell from the web site background section, they have not disclosed information about the existence of the committee, who is on the committee or how the members are chosen. Their terms of reference suggest a strong agenda to continue to implement further curriculum changes complete with goals, an action plan, and a schedule.
So what exactly is the agenda and objectives of the newly approved LGBTQ standing committee? We really don’t know! However, in the Feb 26th Burnaby Now interview of Ad Hoc committee member Debra Sutherland, she makes the statement, “this is just the beginning”, referring to policy 5.45. Given that most Burnaby parents have not been including in the development of this policy, this statement causes us great concern!
I really appreciate Burnaby School Boards’ determination to care and to protect the LGBTQ kids. We who oppose this policy also love and care about LGBTQ children. LGBTQ are human like us and they deserve respect and honor. We don’t want any students to be bullied or discriminated. But I do have to make it extremely clear. Acceptance and tolerance is about accepting a person as who he is, but it's not about accepting all the ideas in the world. Hence there is saying "Agree to disagree." Understanding this, we can always live happily with people who are different from us.
There is an excellent article in The Burnaby Now, by Ben Seebaren, a retired school teacher, in the May 18th issue titled “New policy has weaknesses”
Quote: To develop policy and curriculum to affirm behaviours that are morally or religiously unacceptable or questionable contradicts the multicultural and race relations policy Number 6.40 in which the board approved "the goal of promoting positive human interactions, including interactions which are free from divisive attitudes based upon race, ethnic roots, national origin or religious affiliation." There is a danger that "anti-bullying" policies and curricula will discriminate against religious students who believe that homosexual behaviour is morally wrong. ”End of quote.
Schools have the responsibility to provide a safe and secure environment for ALL students; it’s WRONG to adopt policies that make inherent judgments towards people, regardless of their idea towards what they prefer. Otherwise it’s against Teacher’s ethnic and policy 6.40.
Reading this policy as it is, it can be used to label people who holds the concept of the family as founded on the life-long commitment of one man and one woman to one another in marriage and on their commitment to the welfare of their children as “perpetuates negative stereotypes and is dangerous to individuals and communities” This is discrimination!
It is also very disturbing to read some of comments from the news media towards students and parents who opposed this policy. Those comments already showed discrimination, bully and hatred. I agree with Chair Larry Hayes’ comment “Do the right thing”. But a policy in its draft form that already stimulated discrimination, bully and hatred, that against teacher’s ethnic, that contradict to policy 6.40 is not “the right thing” and should be stopped immediately. Schools should implement and uphold the well-thought-out, already existing policies.
I would like to appeal to the Burnaby School Board:
Please create a policy that encourages all students to show respect to the LGBTQ community, and similarly encourage respect of all Ethic, Cultural, and Faith-based students!
As per the universally accepted Golden Rule, we need to teach our children to love their neighbors as themselves.