by Rick Tone
In Jesse Winter’s article in the April 18 edition, Minister Elaine Taylor seems to be saying that she has simply “gone along” with the Department of Education same-sex school policy. I hope that is not the case, particularly as I like and respect Taylor and think she has generally done a good job in her portfolios.
In this case, though, I have to wonder if Taylor was simply unable or unwilling to order the department’s same-sex policy set aside in order to avoid any repeat of last year’s so called “firestorm,” which, in my opinion, was nothing less than an acute display of disrespect for the rights and beliefs of Catholics. (If not a display of outright hatred for Catholics, and probably for Christians in general, which, by the way, are by far the most persecuted people around the world.)
It seems odd to me that Canadians, as well as a great many Quebecers, spoke forcefully against the Parti Quebecois’ proposed Charter of Quebec Values which would have restricted religious rights in the public sphere, yet here in Yukon the Department of Re-Education seems to have no qualms about bullying Catholics and forbidding Catholic teachings and the teachings of the Bible in Catholic schools.
If Taylor simply acquiesced to the department’s human rights activists, she has done no one any favours in upholding the department’s discriminatory and unnecessary “same sex re-education” policy under the guise of promoting anti-discrimination. If she actually agreed with it, that is another matter which begs the question of why she thinks the so-called LGBTQ students need a policy that protects them specifically?
The excuse that LGBTQ students face a unique set of challenges does not cut it. Fat people face unique challenges. So do the broad spectrum of physically and mentally handicapped people. Where is the specific policy to protect them? And the clubs – how about a departmental policy requiring establishment of an Ugly-Beautiful Alliance Club, or a Geek-Cool Dudes and Dolls Alliance Club?
Did Taylor or the activists in her department bother to ask all the students at each school what challenges they face and what they think of the LGBTQ group being singled out for special consideration? Did they bother to ask parents – all of them, not just the politically correct “firestorm” people who, even given that their concerns regarding specific students and specific incidents may have been legitimate, seem to have forgotten about everyone else and given little if any thought for a policy that makes sense for all.
Oh yes, and they also seem to have forgotten that Catholics and Catholic schools are worthy of respect too.
Let’s face it. We all have unique personalities, cultures, practices, habits, challenges, experiences, hurts, and we all want to be respected, accepted, to be safe and to belong. This is true in school and in adult life. But we cannot craft a specific policy for any one individual or group without giving the same consideration to every other individual or group.
What we can do is establish a general policy that covers all the concerns regarding the way we treat each other. That is what the old Safe and Caring Schools Policy did. It was and remains sufficient and effective. Teachers and students only need apply it.
It is not too late, Taylor. Order the Department of Education to scrap its same-sex policy, not only for Catholic schools but for all schools, and tell them to simply apply the Safe and Caring Schools Policy. It is the right thing to do, it is the fair thing to do, and it is the respectful thing to do.
Rick Tone lives in Whitehorse.