Sunday, November 30, 2014

An Open Letter To Jim Prentice

Dear Mr. Prentice,

In responding to MLA Laurie Blakeman's Bill 202 as you did, you have just thrown LGBT students under the political bus AGAIN.

Let me be abundantly clear here.  Clause 11.1 one of the Alberta Human Rights legislation does not "protect" the rights of anyone.  It creates an environment where teachers are afraid to talk freely about sexuality that isn't straight "missionary position heterosexual".

By allowing for a "conscience exemption", you force teachers to go running to parents for "permission" to  talk about these topics.  Guess what?  That sends a message to students that being LGBT is somehow "bad" or "illicit" - something to be ashamed of.  Surely in today's world we know better than that.

Parents who wail and moan about their right to "protect" their innocent little child from these "evils" are doing nothing more than propagating their own ignorance and discomfort with matters of sexuality.  They aren't going to have an honest discussion with their children about sexuality, they're going to repeat the very narrow viewpoint that they have, which is often informed not by facts and rational evidence but by religious doctrine.  Remember, the vast majority of the discrimination and hate that is aimed at LGBT people in our society has its roots in religious dogma.

Yes, as parents they are free to teach their children whatever religious dogma they wish at home.  They are not free to deny their children free and open access to objective, evidence-based knowledge.  Schools which object to students giving each other moral support through mechanisms like Gay-Straight Alliances do so not because they have a religious objection with any validity.  They do it out of fear that their particular little narrow viewpoint of the world is somehow threatened by treating all of society's citizens as equals.

The rights and safety of LGBT Albertans are no less rights than the religious freedoms of Albertans or those of parents.  A child growing up gay in a religious home has the same right to a safe place at school that acknowledges their sexual identity as real and valid as a straight child.

It isn't hard to guess the political calculation that went into this decision.  You looked, smelled blood in the water from the Wild Rose party's recent disasters and decided to throw LGBT students under the political bus in hopes of securing a little more the religious vote that had gone over the WRP in the last several years.

Using students as a political football is appalling enough.  Doing so with students who are part of a tiny minority population is reprehensible, Mr. Prentice.

I urge you to pass Bill 202 in its full form as it stands today.  Man up, and do the right thing by LGBT students in this province, and take steps that remove discrimination from the system.


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