The Message of Free Bibles in School…plus

28 Mar

Congratulations to the Bluewater District School Board (in Ontario) for reconsidering the handing out of free Gideon Bibles to Grade 5 students.

The article is very good and says a lot of what I would write here – so here it is for you to read.

The part of the article that stood out for me the most, considering what I’m up to this week, was the following paragraph:

“Public schools are the wrong place to hand out religious texts. Any material given away in a classroom comes with a sense of tacit approval by the school, the school board and the teacher. The latter is an authority figure in the lives of Grade 5 students, which makes the implied approval feel all the more real.”

Touche!

I am currently in Newfoundland and Labrador with Egale Canada, training all junior and senior high school principals, vice principals and guidance counselors in the province on why it’s important to (and how to) create LGBTQ safe schools. (Yes, you read correctly, ALL principals, vice principals and guidance counselors. Yay Newfoundland and Labrador!). Just like how what is IN the curriculum is given value (and, in many cases shows students the existence of that fact or issue), what is MISSING implies less or no value, or possibly denies the existence of a fact or issue (or in this case, an identity). School may be the only place students will hear about being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two-Spirit, queer or questioning (LGBTQ). If they are straight or cisgender, this can become part of their education about diversity, inclusion and respect. If they are LGBT or Q, it allows them to see themselves in the curriculum and also understand that they are not alone, and that there is nothing wrong with them and nothing to be ashamed of. This is huge, especially in communities or families where it is not talked about, or where what they hear only tells them it is wrong.

Including LGBTQ people and issues into the curriculum can be as simple as using a family with 2 dads in a math example, reading And Tango Makes Three in Kindergarten, choosing a great English Novel with a gay, lesbian, bisexual, Two-Spirit, trangender, queer or questioning character, or including the fact that people can be attracted to members of the same or opposite sex in health class when the topic of relationships is covered. These are 4 simple age-appropriate examples that acknowledge the existence and presence of LGBTQ people in our communities. At about 10% of the population, we are there, whether you know it or not.

LGBTQ safe schools (and any LGBTQ safe space) has to be created purposefully and obviously, because of the silence, stigma, and discrimination that still exists around this issue, despite the laws in Canada.
We are literally making history here in Newfoundland and Labrador, as this province is the first in Canada to embrace the creation of Gay Straight Alliance student clubs in schools, and to recognize the importance of creating schools that are safe for LGBTQ (and therefore ALL) students. The Minister of Education is on board, the Department of Education is present at the workshops, and the School Districts are supportive.

I am honored to be part of it, working for Egale Canada.

Education is powerful.
And what/who is included by example, material, and role models (etc.) sends as powerful a message as who/what is missing.

See More.

Copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion
www.beeing.ca

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