Don’t say ‘GSA’

Ontario Catholic schools will create anti-bullying clubs that definitely won’t be called ‘gay-straight alliances’

Let’s embark upon a little thought experiment, shall we? Suppose Johnny B. Seventh-Grader is being bullied mercilessly for his fiery red hair. “Ginger!” the kids call him. “Freak of nature!” they say. “You have no soul!” And so forth. Johnny, feeling ostracized and alone, looks to his school’s administration for support. Naturally, one would assume, resources would be available for our redheaded friend. After all, the school—a public institution—is part of a society where reds have the right to live freely from discrimination.  Redheaded people can work in Canada, they can own property, they can vote, hell—they can even marry! So the school, you would expect, would be compelled to foster an environment of inclusion. Johnny’s principal hears his plight, and, in an effort to change the culture of taboo brewing around redheads, she creates a school club called, “It’s OK to be R**.” What’s wrong, Johnny? Don’t you feel more accepted?

The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA) is doing the same sort of semantic dance when it comes to naming its new anti-bullying groups, created in response to requests for gay-straight alliances in Catholic schools. A reporter from Xtra, a national gay and lesbian newspaper, spoke with OCSTA president Nancy Kirby, who told her the new groups will not be called gay-straight alliances:

“When I look at a gay-straight alliance, I see an activist group,” [Kirby said]. We are answering the students’ request for support and assistance, not for activism. Students don’t want to become activists; they want to be supported in being bullied by their peers.”

Is standing up against anti-gay bullying not activism? “In some ways it could be and in other ways it isn’t,” she says. The groups will all have a “common name.”

That’s right—no activism allowed! On a side note, Kirby should probably look into St. Joseph Secondary School, where a lot of this GSA talk originated, because the school apparently has a Solidarity Action Committee “committed to creating a just world by working for peace, fairness and equality everywhere.” Sounds like trouble to me…

According to the Xtra article, students at St Joseph Catholic Secondary School chose the name “Rainbow Alliance” for their club, but the school principal rejected the suggestion, allegedly telling student Leanne Iskander that the name was “too LGBT-sounding.” In related news, word has not yet been confirmed on rumours of whether the school will, in fact, change the name of the cartons of “homogenized milk” sold in the school’s cafeteria.

If the administration’s aim was really to create a safe, inclusive environment for gay and lesbian youth at its schools, it would have no qualms with having “gay words” in the title of the anti-bullying club. Its wavering, however, suggests otherwise. Just another reason why the public dollar should not be supporting a system that puts religious doctrine before students welfare. And oh yeah: down with Gingers.

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