The Burnaby school district in suburban Vancouver released its latest revision of its draft anti-homophobia policy despite opposition fromparents, who claimed that the policy attaches special status to queer students and queer parents while denying rights to religious families, who’d presumably rather that the curriculum teach that homosexuality is immoral, or at least notmention it at all.
The policy is remarkably thorough, going so far as to denounce heterosexism as “perpetuat[ing] negative stereotypes and…dangerous to individuals and communities.”
Unfortunately, today also sees an illustration of why these policies are so necessary in our schools. An eleven-year-old girl in Calgary, Caprice Kirkhope, recently made the brave decision to tell her friends and family that she’s gay. While her family has been incredibly supportive, her classmates have taken to posting mean comments on her Facebook wall and teasing her at school.
“I’m still the same person. I didn’t change,” Caprice told Metro Calgary.
“Caprice doesn’t feel like she has any friends anymore,” Caprice’s mom, Diane Fjaagesund said. “I think the school needs to have more education on this.”
While the Calgary Board of Education has anti-bullying policies in place, changes to the Alberta Human Rights Act last September have banned teachers from discussing homosexuality in class without giving advance warning to parents, making it difficult to address homophobic bullying in the classroom.
Caprice already seems to have a good handle on gay issues. Last September, Metro photographed her and her siblings participating as a team in Calgary’s AIDS Walk.