Call me a sentimental sucker, but I start to tear up as soon as the first Christmas ads appear on TV.
It’s true. Hawk your product to a holiday jingle and you’ve got my attention with a smile. Years of consumerist programming will do that to a person.
Just the other day, I was walking through a mall-a mall (normally the epitome of gender conformity pressure)-searching for gifts my loved ones don’t need, when the first strains of a Christmas carol reached my ears. I swear I felt warm and fuzzy inside.
I still remember the wish lists I used to carefully craft each year, cutting out pictures of my favourite toys and gluing them, in order of preference, to page after page of instructions for my parents. I had long since stopped believing in Santa.
I haven’t written a gimme list like that in ages.
So I thought I’d start again now.
And address it Santa, on the off chance that he really is listening.
Only this time, it’s going to be a list of a slightly different nature.
For starters, Santa, I want BC’s ministry of education to quit stalling and draft some real guidelines for appropriate conduct in our schools. Guidelines that actually name homophobia as a problem and offer some concrete directives to address and prohibit it.
When is the ministry going to learn that blanket anti-bullying policies are not enough? You have to name the problem and pull it out by the roots if you’re truly going to change the landscape of our schools-and make them safer for everyone.
I think we have all been patient long enough. We waited while the much-touted Safe Schools Task Force toured the province listening to people’s experiences.
We held our breath while it drafted its report. We held our breath some more as it blew its deadline to release the report several months in a row.
And all for almost nothing. Sure we got the task force to acknowledge that homophobia exists in the discussion section of its report. But that realization obviously wasn’t enough to make the recommendations section. All we got there was some useless reminder that school policies have to be consistent with BC’s human rights code.
And now we are waiting again. Having spent a couple of months pondering the task force’s suggestions, the ministry is now apparently circulating its own set of draft guidelines to school boards for feedback. And reporters (and their readers) weren’t allowed to peek, last I checked.
But, from what I hear, the ministry’s guidelines don’t specifically mention homophobia, either.
Now, Santa, I know you don’t have any real jurisdiction in this area. But I thought you might have a little sway in government circles, nonetheless. I mean, you are Santa, after all.
Well, let me know.
In the meantime, here’s a wish I’m sure you (and the whole community) can help fulfill. You see, A Loving Spoonful, the Vancouver agency that provides meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, is holding its annual holiday food drive this month. It’s even put a grocery bag for easy filling in this issue of Xtra West.
All you have to do is fill up the bag and drop it off at any of the handy drop-off points around town. It’s right up your alley, Santa.
The Fountainhead Pub at 1025 Davie St has even generously offered to collect the bags, and all other donations, and load them into a five-ton truck for us from Dec 12-14. (And if you feel like sticking around, Santa, you could also catch the Fountainhead’s annual variety show Dec 12 to benefit A Loving Spoonful and the Vancouver food bank. Or you could swing by the Dufferin, at 900 Seymour St, and check out its ninth annual Strip-A-Thon Dec 14, also to benefit A Loving Spoonful.)
Anyways, Santa, it looks like I’m just about out of room-which is really too bad because I was just warming up. I haven’t asked for my new dildo yet!
I guess I’ll go crank up the Christmas tunes and hope for the best.
Robin Perelle is Acting Editor for Xtra.