Canadians love to believe that we are tolerant. We particularly pride ourselves in comparing our policies with American policies. In Canada gay marriage has been legal for sometime now; whereas in the US it is still an issue of serious contention. It has always been my contention that allowing gay marriage is a progressive move however; it does not and cannot solve the problem of homophobia in western society.
According to the CBC, the Charlotte County Rainbow Support Group sponsored award winning author, Alex Sanchez to speak at New Brunswick area high schools to discuss the homophobia and isolation that many gay youths face. Adolescence is a particularly difficult time in life. Teenagers are beginning to figure out who they are and what they stand for. As adults we continually send them conflicting messages about what is morally appropriate. On one hand we preach abstinence and yet every where they look sex is used to sell a myriad of products. Our culture is awash in look but don't touch. For teenagers that are gay, bi-curious, trans or intersex their sexuality and their very bodies are constructed as 'other'.
Considering the myriad of challenges faced by GLBTIQ youth, having someone to normalize the experience would be a positive step, that is unless you are an intolerant homophobe. When parents learned of the presentation they petitioned the school board, citing "concern with the direction that the schools were taking." What I found astounding is that in their desire to "protect" their children they were discriminating against them. It is ludicrous to believe that hearing about the experiences of a gay man would cause someone to "turn gay" and therefore what ever damages they were hoping to avoid were and are non existent.
If by the age of 13 we feel it is important that children know about the changes that are happening to their bodies and how to protect themselves should they choose to engage in sex, why is it problematic that those that identify as GLBTIQ teens learn that what they are feeling is also normal? Many teens already harbour feelings of shame regarding their bodies and natural sexual feelings, reinforcing these ideas only causes more anxiety in a young mind. Why should they not be given a primer on how to protect themselves sexually?
By pressuring the school board to cancel the assemblies the message that these parents sent their kids is that their love comes with conditions. It reinforces the idea that "homosexuality is a deviant lifestyle" and that being heterosexual is the only acceptable way of life. Now teenagers that already questioning their sexual identity will not feel comfortable turning to their clearly homophobic parents for guidance and may choose to make the wrong decisions simply because they are ill informed.
When I held Destruction and Mayhem, I was overwhelmed with love for them. Today as they are growing into independent beings who they fall in love with or how they express their sexuality is not a concern of mine. The only proviso I have is that the person that they love treats them well and that they are happy. As parents, the happiness of a child should be our only concern and if that is not your main goal for them, perhaps you need to rethink what being a parent really means.