Vancouver
3 min

Some victory

Government's new elective course unimpressive

I can’t understand what the Correns are so excited about.

Sure, the BC government’s recent decision to review its curriculum and launch a new social justice course on, among other things, sexual orientation is a step in the right direction. But it’s a small step. And it took seven years just to get this far.

Seven years of back-and-forth haggling on the Correns’ human rights complaint–just to goad the government into injecting a touch of queer content into high schools across BC.

Seven years for an elective course that promises to slide a few queer images in amongst the race, ethnicity and multiculturalism of social justice issues in Canada.

It’s not even a mandatory course. Who will it reach? The budding young gaybashers who most need the exposure to positive queer images? I highly doubt it.

I mean, adding a course with explicit queer content is nothing to sneeze at. And for some queer and questioning youth, the opportunity to see positive images of themselves and others like them could make all the difference in the world. And I appreciate the Correns’ years of hard work to get us this far.

But I think they settled too soon and for too little.

I expect more. I want our elected officials to truly take the lead and stop waiting for court cases to force their hands. I want them to initiate a profound rethinking of our schools’ culture and curriculum, one that brings queer images even to those students who aren’t seeking them.

In fact, I want the government to liberally sprinkle queer content throughout all the course materials where we are now conspicuously absent. I want the next generation to learn about queers in history, queers in literature and queers in science. I even want them to wrestle with queer commuters in those tricky math problems involving various train schedules that always left me stumped.

I want to exist.

And I want our province’s youth–gay and straight–to know it. I want them to learn, from the earliest possible age, that I am part of their world and have every right to share it.

I want regular queer references in classes to reach the clueless kids, the friendly kids, the angry kids, the ignorant kids, and especially the kids currently indoctrinated by parents, churches and other powerful adults to hate us and try to hurt us.

In short, I want schools across the province to offer our youth every opportunity to grow up into healthy, loving, open people.

And one little elective course ain’t gonna do it.

I am tired of waiting for my elected officials to show some courage and true leadership. I want them to add some mandatory queer content to the curriculum now. And while they’re at it, I want them to resurrect and adopt Lorne Mayencourt’s Safe Schools bill the instant the legislature reconvenes this fall.

Our queer youth deserve to be safe at school. They deserve to learn alongside their peers in a safe and supportive environment.

We already know we can’t leave it up to our school districts to take the lead and explicitly prohibit homophobic harassment. We tried that. Only two districts rose to the challenge. Vancouver and Victoria. That’s it. Two districts out of 60.

Two more districts at least mention sexual orientation in their general harassment policies. The rest are silent. Hardly a pass in anyone’s books.

I hope no one in government thinks I’ll forget about the Safe Schools bill now that I’ve been offered a shiny, new elective course.

“I think it’s a fair settlement,” BC’s Attorney General, Wally Oppal, told the Vancouver Sun, Jun 1. “We listened to their complaints and we decided there was some merit in what they were suggesting.

“I hope that we are a mature enough society… and that there is an understanding that there is a place for this in our curriculum,” Oppal added, apparently anticipating a backlash.

This settlement is a victory for all those students, parents, teachers and families who aren’t heterosexual, Murray Corren told the Sun the same day.

I’m glad they’re all satisfied with themselves. I’m not.