|Posted by Donna Dawson on April 2, 2012 at 9:20 AM|
Recently, I had a friend send me an email appealing that I act against Bill 13 of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. I appreciate the zeal that many people have for protecting government as it is but too often those same people haven't bothered to read the bill in question--so I did. My friend has every right to be alarmed.
To clarify my position I will say this: You can believe whatever you like as far as religion, sexual orientation and political alignment. The Canadian Constitution says so. And I have the right according to that same constitution to disagree with you. So that we understand one another, a disagreement is an acknowledgement of opposing views. You can say that you agree with homosexuality and according to the constitution, I can say that I don't. I'm not assaulting you. I'm not harassing you. I'm not bullying you. I'm simply stating that I don't agree with you. And guess what? You have the right to say that you don't agree with my lack of agreement with homosexuality. And you aren't bullying me either. It's the beauty of a free country. We can express our views and so long as we remain civil, there is no crime in it.
Bill 13 is a piece of legislature which will end all of that. Our provincial government isn't satisfied with tolerance. No, they want acceptance which will then lead to a squelching of constitutional freedoms. Below are two quotes directly from the bill off the LAO website.
The preamble begins with the following:
The people of Ontario and the Legislative Assembly:
Believe that students need to be equipped with the knowledge, skills, attitude and values to engage the world and others critically, which means developing a critical consciousness that allows them to take action on making their schools and communities more equitable and inclusive for all people, including LGBTTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, two-spirited, intersexed, queer and questioning) people:
Recognize that a whole-school approach is required, and that everyone — government, educators, school staff, parents, students and the wider community — has a role to play in creating a positive school climate and preventing inappropriate behaviour, such as bullying, sexual assault, gender-based violence and incidents based on homophobia;
Acknowledge that there is a need for stronger action to create a safe and inclusive environment in all schools, and to support all students, including both students who are impacted by and students who have engaged in inappropriate behaviour, to assist them in developing healthy relationships, making good choices, continuing their learning and achieving success.
Therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:
And then from Section 2 Subsection 8 we have the following:
2. (1) Paragraph 29.1 of subsection 8 (1) of the Act is repealed and the following substituted:
equity and inclusive education
29.1 require boards to develop and implement an equity and inclusive education policy, and, if required by the Minister, submit the policy to the Minister and implement changes to the policy as directed by the Minister;
Now this may all seem like harmless gobble-de-gook to you but I assure you it is very dangerous language which takes both gays and straights very close to losing all rights and freedoms of expression. Let's break it down.
The preamble subtly calls those who don't agree with homosexuality to set aside their beliefs and be 'more equitable'. It's a convoluted way of saying, 'you must agree with me no matter what your religion states, your parents have taught you or your natural inclinations lead you.'.
Now I can understand a person wanting to be right. I like to be right. I don't like to be wrong. I'll admit it. That's not the point here. This bill is trying to take away my right to say 'I'm right' by trying to force me to say 'I'm wrong' whether I feel I am or not.
Instead this bill should be removing the whole issue of sexual orientation, race, creed, colour, religion and stating, "All children should, unequivocally, be free from bullying. Bullies will be caught and disciplined." But it doesn't.
The bill then goes on to insist that equity and inclusive education be enforced. That means that all teachers must teach that a gay lifestyle is correct and that I can not say otherwise. Even those teachers whose religious beliefs disagree with a gay lifestyle.
Hold the phone! That impinges on my rights and freedoms as someone who wishes to disagree does it not?
The gay community should be equally alarmed by this bill. If the government is allowed to dictate to us what we are allowed to teach our children--if the government is permitted to interfere with what is connected with freedom of religion and freedom of speech, all people in Ontario will feel the sting of it eventually. Just imagine this:
The straight student stands up in class and says, "It's wrong to be gay." The teacher is then forced to dole out disciplinary measures. But then the next year, the gay student stands up in class and says, "It's wrong to be straight." That same teacher is going to have to discipline the gay student too under this bill. Both students are effectively gagged. They are no longer allowed to express their beliefs.
This bill isn't about bullying. It isn't about protecting the safety of a child. (If it were, it would use the language as I outlined it above--ALL children--instead of making a list.) It isn't even about what's right and what's wrong. It is a government manoeuvre to gag the people of this province so that they can't express their beliefs. And guess what? If we can't turn to each other and say, "I believe you are wrong." we soon won't be able to turn to our government and say, "I believe you are wrong." Before we know it, we will be in a dictatorship--we will have trained our children that they have no right to voice their opinions and their beliefs--even when we don't like them. Our children will grow up to become adults afraid to confront anything because they have been taught the wrong definition of bullying. And our government leaders will move in with horrendous taxations, impingements of other freedoms, and every other freedom we take for granted.
When defining bullying we need to recognize that it is forcing one's beliefs on another in a violent or intimidating way--kind of like the government is trying to do with Bill 13.
If our children are not taught the gentle and correct way of saying "I believe you are wrong" to each other--a task that should be done by parents primarily--they will stand aside and allow our governing officials to become the bullies. Is that what we want in our democratic society?
Yes, I believe we need to stop bullying. Yes, I believe we need to guard our right to express our views. Yes, I believe that teachers need to be taught how to champion the underdog. No, I do not believe that teachers should be teaching anything other than the basics (math, English, history, geography, science) but that it is the parents' responsibility to do that--whether the government thinks parents are smart enough to do so or not.
So how do we deal with this?
Write your MPP and tell them that you don't appreciate having your freedom of religion and freedom of speech jeopardized by a government with an agenda to gag its citizens. Tell them you wish to retain your right to express your beliefs and you wish those with whom you disagree to also have that right.
One voice does count!