Re: Gay-straight alliance ban lifted
This letter is in response to the article “Gay-straight alliance ban lifted”, which was published in the last issue of The Medium. While it should be acknowledged that the article is well-written with no ill intentions, it lacked arguments in favour of the ban’s repeal and didn’t provide counter-arguments to quoted reasons presented in defence of the ban.
The first point presented in defence of the ban in the article is that gay-straight alliances (GSAs) promote unhealthy tendencies and an unacceptable lifestyle. GSAs are primarily small discussion-centred groups which seek to open dialogue around issues of sexual and gender identity. They are not orgies or bareback parties; they are a safe space that fosters acceptance and tolerance. The second point presented was that GSAs enforce self-identification and violate the privacy of homosexual students.
Membership in GSAs is not forced on students, nor do students have to identify once present; attending a GSA labels a participant as nothing more than an ally. It is their choice whether or not they decide to identify; no one’s privacy is violated. The third point presented was that allowing GSAs would encourage a sexual orientation that is premature. Homosexual students develop at the same time as heterosexual students; their desires are no more premature than those of their peers, whose relationships the Halton Catholic District School Board permits and encourages. The fourth point presented was that while church teachings teach acceptance of everyone they don’t condone the actions of gays and lesbians.
This is, as mentioned in the article, quite the conundrum; I honestly encourage Catholics to critically examine the context of the passages which reference homosexuality, since it’s not as black and white as one might think. The final point presented was that denominational rights should supersede Ministry of Education regulations on issues of faith and morality. I ask you, the reader, in a secular state such as Canada where the charter protects individual rights and freedoms, should the denomination rights of publicly funded Catholic schools be maintained over those of individuals? Should Catholic schools have the right to discriminate?
When HCBSB amended the Equity and Inclusive Education policy passed down to them by the Ministry of Education to remove all references to sexual and gender identity, as well as ban GSAs, they sent a message to their 29,000 students that homosexuality was taboo, reinforcing the belief that it is sinful and unnatural. I want you to think for a second what it feels like to be silenced, to be told your desires are unnatural and sinful, that it is wrong for you to love who you love.
Rather than encouraging positive, open discussion on sexual and gender identity, the ban shut down discussion completely, removing a vital outlet for LGTBQ students struggling to come to terms with their identity. I honestly believe that the ban was immoral and that exposure to groups like GSAs in schools is fundamental to fostering an equitable, tolerant, and inclusive environment not just for currently enrolled students but for the population at large. It is through these small discussion-centred groups that students come to understand what it truly means to identify as LGTBQ… that our “lifestyle” is no more a choice than our eye colour or height, that we are not perverts or pedophiles, that LGBTQ identified people are just that—people—and we deserve just as much respect and tolerance as any other person or group.
For these reasons and many more not mentioned in the original article, I support the lifting of the ban on GSAs and I condemn HCDSB for instituting it in the first place. It was a shocking reminder that there is still institutionalized intolerance and I am glad to be rid of it.Thank you.