Opinion

LGBTQ rights are Canadian values

McGill Tribune

 

On Sept. 24 the National Post ran an ad by the Institute for Canadian Values which opposed the inclusion of transsexual, transgender, intersexed, and Two-spirited issues   in the Ontario school curriculum taught to children between junior kindergarten and Grade 3. 

The ad consisted of a photo of a young girl and the text, “Please! Don’t confuse me … I’m a girl. Don’t teach me to question if I’m a boy, transexual [sic], transgendered, intersexed, or two-spirited [sic].” 

The text below the image is manipulative and begs the leaders of the three most prominent Ontario political parties to stop teachers from “confusing” her. The ad uses linguistic constructions that imply the requests come from the little girl (“mommy … you promised,” pleads the ad), and insinuates that she will be mentally or emotionally distressed by learning about such issues. After listing quotes from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) curriculum resource document regarding “Challenging Homophobia and Heterosexism,” the ad invites readers to sign an online petition to remove these aspects from  the curriculum.

The ad raised the ire of many LGBTQ groups, including Queer Ontario. The Post issued an apology and stated that the ad, as it appeared, would not run again, and that they would donate the proceeds of the ad to a yet-unnamed organization that “promotes the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people.”

The Tribune applauds the Post’s decision to apologize, but the ad should never have run in the first place.

Dissent and debate about Ontario’s school curriculum should be encouraged, but the construction of this ad is offensive and in poor taste. Putting a doe-eyed, sad-looking child in front of the camera is emotionally manipulative, and it’s nearly impossible not to hear her voice asking the institute’s questions. The title that the institute has chosen for itself, “the Institute for Canadian Values,” and its domain name, “StopCorruptingChildren.com,” implies that its opponents lack Canadian values and patriotism by supporting non-traditional gender roles.

Furthermore, the ad isn’t accurate: although the lessons are depicted as mandatory in the ad, according to queer newspaper Xtra!, they are actually optional. Teaching children to question their own gender, and teaching them that your understanding of gender can change as you grow up, are two entirely different things. The institute’s assertion that the Ontario school curriculum does the former is unfounded.  

The Tribune believes that there’s space for appropriate dialogue on this issue, but this ad does not fall within those boundaries. It is clear that some parents feel that these issues are best approached in the home, or at a later age, and they have a right to voice those concerns— but this ad, which obfuscates fact and replaces knee-jerk emotion for thought, is not a constructive part of that dialogue. Free speech should not be equated with demagoguery. 

In addition to their ad, the Tribune disagrees with the stance of the Institute for Canadian Values. The argument that LGBTQ issues shouldn’t be broached until children are beyond the third grade  holds water at first glance, but becomes a sieve under scrutiny. By delaying these discussions we ensure that transsexual, transgender, intersexed, and Two-spirited people are regarded as different. Children who learn from a young age that boys and girls are the only two possible categories will have trouble accepting anything other than the gender binary system later on. Only by teaching LGBTQ issues to people of a young age can we ensure that these concepts will be merely a few amongst the many things that we, as Canadians, value as perfectly normal.

 

Eric Mauser, News Editor, chose not to take part in the above editorial review.

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