We really need to figure out a way to live with people who are different than ourselves.
The question of our differences came to the forefront during a recent parent information night at Ponoka Elementary School (PES) where a diversity club has been announced.
Among the topics within this club are racism, bullying (a big problem in some of our schools), interpersonal supports and to be able to speak on gender identification issues.
Staff at PES should be commended for their leadership role in starting this club. We need something like this in Ponoka more than people realize.
So it’s no surprise that there’s going to be some pushback.
What’s also not surprising is that the reluctance is not on the bullying or racism issues but on the question of LGBTQ discussions being part of the club. There’s a lot of fear out there, much of it ignorance.
That ignorance can lead to hate but there’s a chance to learn and grow, and possibly understand.
Because of that this editorial is being tempered to hopefully raise positive discussion with the long-term vision of becoming a more tolerant, accepting and open community.
For those who feel that LGBTQ people are the devil’s child, unnatural, the scourge of the earth or anything other than human, this may be a good time to check out. I’m not going to change your mind and you’re not going to change mine. If however, there’s a chance you could see it from another perspective, read on.
Let’s take a rational look at the issue.
At the parent teacher night, some parents had palpable fear that they would have no control over their child and that’s a valid concern. There appeared to be a sense that by having open, honest discussions about these questions, teachers would sway their children into a certain way of thinking.
Others worried that discussions about LGBTQ issues creates an unhealthy environment about something inappropriate for kids to discuss. Those concerns seem to stem from not knowing or understanding what it means for a person to be gay.
And for some, they worry that kids are easily confused and could be swayed or tricked into becoming gay.
Firstly, I don’t think anyone who is homosexual wakes up one morning and decides that they want to be that way.
Being a kid or teenager is hard enough as it is; adding gay or lesbian to the mix will only make their lives harder. They risk public ridicule, verbal and physical abuse, and potentially the loss of their families by coming out as homosexual.
Choice is the wrong word.
It’s an important distinction to realize that a person doesn’t necessarily choose to be gay. If you’re not sure, maybe ask someone you know who is gay how they came to the realization. Their answer may surprise you.
It’s also possible we as parents are putting our own prejudices on our kids. They have an easier time with this sort of stuff as they see it every day in their school. Kids are a lot smarter and more accepting of others’ differences than adults are. For the most part they’re not constrained by our preconceived notions of what is right and proper.
You think there are no gay kids in elementary school?
Are you thinking that kids go from elementary school to high school and all of a sudden are like, “Hey! I’m gay eh!”
Let’s contemplate that for a second.
For those who don’t want to see their kids in diversity club, parents can always opt out, or take them out of PES, send them to the Catholic or Christian schools.
This may come as a surprise to you, but there’s LGBTQ kids in all the schools. At St. Augustine there’s some out, and some not. I notice St. Augustine doesn’t have any gay/straight alliance clubs but that doesn’t mean those kids aren’t there.
To be clear, for PES, it’s not a gay/straight alliance being proposed.
Pretending that there are no LGBTQ people out there is unrealistic and it’s setting kids up to fail in the real world.
PES is taking a leadership role with this club, and it’s helping create a sense of worldliness, which happens to include those in the LGBTQ spectrum. But it’s not exclusive to that; it’s a club to celebrate what makes us all different.
Are we worried that someone we know will become gay because we talk about it or meet with someone who is? Are we worried because we feel it’s unnatural?
Or we could ask: Are they harming my family or myself or others? If not, then why does it bother us?
Something tells me most gay people just want to live their lives and celebrate who they are without fear of abuse or judgment. It’s our own insecurities and fear that’s causing the problem and we’re forcing our perspectives, religious or otherwise on other people. Isn’t that a form of bullying?
For those worried that their kids will become gay, let’s ask ourselves what the worst-case scenario is: So your child tells you they’re gay; big deal.
You could move on with your life and accept your child and challenge them to be a good person. It’s probable that for your child, the worst-case scenario if they come out, is that you, their parents won’t accept them. You’ll throw them out of the house and disown them.
The worst-case scenario is far worse for your child than it is for you. Think about that before you make any hasty decisions.
And remember folks, people are gay, and that’s OK!