2 min

Make it better

BY NOREEN FAGAN – Change has to happen.

That is the message
from Claudia Van Den Heuvel, executive director of Pink Triangle Services
(PTS), an Ottawa-based organization that offers support services for gay,
lesbian, bisexual and trans people.

The fact that Jamie Hubley — the latest gay teen to commit
suicide — lived in Ottawa has thrown the problem of homophobic bullying into
people’s backyards, and the reality has hit hard.

A Facebook tribute page has been created; Jamie’s friends
have rallied together to order thousands of rainbow bracelets (by Oct 20 the
number was up to 4,700) that have RIP Jamie inscribed on them; youth at Jer’s
are making Unicorn buttons to remember the teen; and on Oct 20, 200
people participated in a vigil at the Human Rights Memorial in Ottawa in memory of all the
teens who have committed suicide because of anti-gay bullying.

PTS has gone one step further by starting two online petitions
on change.org.

The first petition urges the Ottawa-Carleton District School
Board (OCDSB) to “make immediate changes to how they enforce their safe schools
policy, to demand teachers and administrators step in when they see
discrimination happening in school environments, to make GLBTTQ diversity and
inclusive space training mandatory for all teachers and administrators and to
include GLBTTQ history, health and awareness as part of the curriculum for

The second petition is directed to the minister of education. It asks the minister to “enforce the
safer schools act which protects GLBTTQ youth from discrimination, to pursue
more inclusive and equitable curriculum and to enforce that curriculum in all
Ontario schools.”

It will be interesting to see how many signatures the
petitions gather and whether OCDSB and the minister actually sit up and take any notice.

I like the fact that PTS is trying to rattle some cages,
almost as much as I am confused by the Conservatives scrambling to make their
own It Gets Better video.

Excuse me, John Baird?

But now is not the time to be bitchy, so I will not say
any more about that.

In the past week, there have many videos posted online about
Jamie, but the most poignant is one made by Jamie’s close friend — watch it, but
be prepared to feel sad.


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