Sunday, September 15, 2013

Safe Schools legislation that involve Gay Straight Alliances

Manitoba is the latest province to come up with a piece of safe schools legislation that will do nothing more than conquer and divide and provide self-interest groups the opportunity to lobby against each other.
By allowing one group to own the issue of bullying, other children are being ignored, discriminated against and re-bullied.  Ontario's recent legislation is a bad piece of legislation, and one that shouldn’t be mimicked by other provinces.  Bureaucrats that believe Gay Straight Alliances are the answer to bullying are only looking for the votes of larger self-interest groups as opposed to dealing with the problem as a whole.  Are we also going to have clubs for religious beliefs, ethnicity, race, disability, academic performance, socio-economic status, family constitution, body image, etc.? This is a misguided attempt to offer acceptance and inclusion through segregation?  This kind of legislation does nothing more than force our children to become social activists and challenge the rights of parents as first educators to determine and establish family beliefs and values?

During the public debate on Bill 13 in Ontario, 80% of presenters at the social committee hearings were in opposition to Bill 13 as a solution to bullying.  By ignoring the majority of voices, the basic right of people to not only voice opposition, but to be HEARD was ignored. This is a very perilous precedent and continues to feed the divide in society as opposed to acceptance and equal rights for all.

Dr. Mark Lerner is a Clinical, School and Forensic Psychologist, and chairman of The Institute for Traumatic Stress and states the following:  “A thorough review of psychoeducational data, disciplinary records and police reports should be undertaken. Consideration may also be given to psychologically evaluating involved parties, as well as consulting with educators, parents, pediatricians and psychological and/or psychiatric treatment providers.

School administrators and the legal community should be empowered with data. This information will help in determining if an individual has been subjected to bullying, what was done (if anything) to address the alleged behavior(s), what are the consequences, and what can ultimately prevent such actions in the future.

In the meantime, we need to teach our children that we are all individuals, we hold different beliefs, that sometimes we do not agree with each other, and sometimes we don’t even  like each other, but it is not okay to victimize or bully someone on this basis, nor should you expect to be victimized and bullied. We need to teach our children caring, compassion and community.  Perhaps only then will we reach a decade where self-interest groups will not have to lobby against each other, throwing out statistics to indicate why they are more important than the next; perhaps we will reach a decade where organizations won't feel it necessary to target, thereby re-victimizing others who do not fall within their target criteria.