In September, some parents across Canada marched to protest what they perceive as the indoctrination of children regarding LGBTQS+ issues. Many of the protestors accuse schools and teachers of turning their children toward a lifestyle that parents disapprove of, and they assert that their parental rights are being violated by schools and teachers. The problem is that these accusations are not true. Teachers and parents work closely with each other to create safe and caring environments for all children. The Education Act “requires that school boards provide notice to parents where courses, programs of study or instruction includes subject matter that deals primarily and explicitly with religion or human sexuality.”
Every parent wants the best for their children; however, research informs us that children who are members of the LGBTQS+ community who do not find acceptance either at home or at school are at higher risk for mental health issues, suicide, homelessness and bullying. It is important to parents and to teachers that all children flourish in schools, including those who belong to marginalized groups like the LGBTQS+ community.
The protests combined with antitransgender legislation in Canada and the United States present deep issues for us to consider. We are at a pivotal time, and we must look at the best available data and research to protect the children who are the subject of these regressive laws and thinly disguised hatred.
I have often thought we are more the same than we are different. To illustrate the point, Pedigree Petfoods created a brilliant ad during the contentious 2016 presidential election between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. In the ad, a person wearing a Trump t-shirt goes to a Clinton rally with a dog that she claims is lost. She does the same thing while wearing a Clinton t-shirt during a Trump rally. In each instance, the people in both camps found ways to put aside their political differences and come together to help the lost dog. This is one small example of how we can create common ground and good will, and in today’s conflicted social environment, it is up to all of us to find points of connection and create spaces of belonging, particularly for vulnerable students.
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