McGinty’s “Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy” threatens Parental Rights in Education

Dominic Tse (President, Jubilee Centre for Christian Social Action)

During the provincial election campaign, many issues are brought to the debates, including Education. However, what is sadly missing is an important aspect of the Liberal government’s Education strategy that has been largely ignored or missed by most citizens of this province.

Recently, the McGinty government, under the leadership of then Minister of Education Kathleen Wynne, began to implement a policy called “Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy” (EIE Strategy) in all publicly funded school boards in Ontario.

A key part of this strategy was the introduction of a new Sex Ed curriculum for Ontario elementary schools in 2010 that included teaching:

  • 6 years old about the sexual parts of the human body
  • 8 years old about homosexuality and “gender identity”
  • 6 graders about the pleasure of masturbation
  • 7 graders about vaginal and anal intercourse.

It was only after a public outcry against the curriculum that the McGinty government was forced to withdraw the Sex Ed curriculum for a “rethink,” which sounds like a code word for “for re-introduction after the election.”

What is troubling is that the radical Sex Ed curriculum is only one part of the EIE Strategy that threatens parental rights in directing the moral values of their children in Ontario’s publicly funded schools.

Kathleen Wynne wrote in EIE Strategy: “This is why I believe it is critical for us to articulate an equity and inclusive education strategy for Ontario schools: Embracing diversity and moving beyond tolerance to acceptance.” (p.2, EIE Strategy) What does she mean by “embracing diversity”? The policy also writes, “Many events that support diversity, such as Aboriginal Education Month, African Heritage Month, Asian Heritage Month, and the Pride Parade, are celebrated.” (p. 17 EIE Strategy) It clearly means that “embracing diversity” requires students to “accept” the homosexual lifestyle by “celebrating the Pride parade.”

Another major objective of the EIE strategy is to require that students “see themselves reflected in their curriculum” and “in their physical surroundings.” (p.4, EIE Strategy) The TDSB document “Challenging Homophobia and anti-heterosexism” (CHAH), released in early 2011, is a brainchild of this policy. In the name of anti-bullying against students with different sexual orientation (LGBTQ) and gender identity, the CHAH document seeks to challenge the so-called “biases” of heterosexism in the curriculum, by deconstructing traditional (or heterosexual) notions of gender identity, sexual orientation, and family. Students as young as kindergarten are exposed to the homosexual lifestyle, to experiment with different gender roles, and, to celebrate Pride parade at school.

Another troubling aspect of the EIE strategy is the exclusion of parental participation. In Feb. 2010, the McGinty government passed Bill 157, the Keeping our Kids Safe at School Act, which requires school staff to report inappropriate student behavior, such as bullying, to principals, who in turn have to report to the victim’s parents. However, there is an important exception. In the training video for implementation of the Act in schools, it is said that principals must notify a victim’s parents, “unless it is decided that doing so would cause the victim further harm.” Can school officials override the authority of the parents in matter of welfare of the child? Who give them this authority?

In the TDSB’s CHAH document, it is explicitly stated on page. 10:

  • Schools should not send notes or permission slips home before starting any classroom work on LGBTQ issues.
  • Parents do not have their child accommodated out of human rights education based on religious grounds.

Why are parents shut out of their child’s education in these issues? What is to be feared when parents seek to bring their own cultural, religious, and family values to dialogue with the values embedded in the EIE Strategy? Isn’t it true that the best education outcome is achieved when parents are involved in their child’s education? Isn’t the case the student learns best when parents can guide their child to allow values taught at school to dialogue with values at home?

The CHAH documents says, “The TDSB will practices or conduct in its schools that may put public safety, health, or the human rights and freedoms of others at risk.” (p. 10 CHAH) Why would having parental involvement threaten the safety, health, or human rights and freedoms of others at risk?

We believe that students in our schools, regardless of sex, race, colour, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, should feel safe to learn and grow. Parents, students and staffs should all play their parts to ensure a school environment that is free of bullying. However, in affirming that bullying is wrong, we need not agree with the values of the LGBTQ lifestyles. Nor should our students be forced to accept those values.

Kathleen Wynne, in an interview by Xtra, a gay magazine, commented on the Toronto Catholic Parents Association’s effort to amend the EIE policy in the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) so that the TCDSB would stay true to its constitutional guaranteed mandate to promote Catholic doctrines, where one of the contentious issues is whether Gay clubs are allowed in catholic schools

“It is not going away. The expectation is that they will have an equity and inclusive education policy and will allow students to form these groups to have these discussions in every school board in the province,” she says. “I think what the province can do is to provide the professional development supports to the boards to get them to the point where they understand how to do this.” (Xtra, Sept. 7, 2011)

This doesn’t sound very inclusive at all. In fact, it threatens to deny our rights to be part of our children’s education. As parents, we must speak out and assert our rights. We must ensure future Ontario government respect our rights as parents to play a pivotal role in our children’s education. In this provincial election, make this an election issue when you speak to the candidates in your riding. Most important of all, please make sure you vote – vote for parental rights in education.

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Please express your concern by signing the petition at: www.StopCorruptingChildren.com.

For interview, contact Rev. Dominic Tse (email: dominictse513@gmail.com.)

多倫多教育局“挑戰害怕同性戀反異性戀主義(Challenging Homophobia and anti-Heterosexism)政策”的新霸權主義

謝安國(本文作者保留版權)

隨著今年九月份學校開課,安省教育廳要求所有公費教育局(包括公立教育局和天主教教育局)內學校推行所謂“平等及包容教育政策”(Equity and Inclusive Education Policy)。而全省最大的教育局,今年初推出一份教育局文件“Challenging Homophobia and Heterosexism: A K-12 Curriculum Resource Guide”(“挑戰害怕同性戀反異性戀主義:幼稚園至十二年級的課程資源指引”),以反歧視為口號,內容卻涉及不少關於同性戀家庭,雙性戀等多種性傾向的教材。

(文件可在此下載:http://www.tdsb.on.ca/wwwdocuments/programs/Equity_in_Education/docs/Challenging%20Homophobia%20and%20Heterosexism%20Final%202011.pdf

課程開宗明義的指出,LGBTQ(L-lesbian即女同性戀;G-gay,即男同性戀,B-bisexual即雙性戀,T-trangender即轉性人,Q-queer怪異者,或懷疑自己性取向者)人仕經常受到歧視,或被惡言相向,或被人出言侮辱,對他們造成不少心理的壓力。這種校內的欺凌行為(bullying)必須禁止,學生也應該接受反欺凌行為(anti-bullying)教育,以確保所有學生在校內都感到安全。

可是,課程並沒有停在反欺凌的教育上,卻更進一步要為LGBTQ人仕製造一個他們完全被認同的環境。換言之,學生之所以有害怕同性戀(homophobic)思維與行為,因為校內文化都是基於異性戀主義(Heterosexism)。所以,要徹底清除害怕同性戀心態,就必須扭轉異性戀主義文化(anti-heterosexism),建造一個完全包容的教育環境(Inclusive Education Environment)。什麼是包容教育?就是在家庭與性價值系統上的徹底的價值中性教育(Value-free education),向傳統價值立場發出批判,包括兩性,性取向,家庭價值等,揭露價值立場背後的異性戀主義的面目,向異性戀主義的霸權作全面的解構(Deconstruction)。

這教材就是一份解構的教材。例如,幼稚園至三年級學生將會藉著不同的活動,對兩性的定義(男扮女,女扮男),家庭的定義(閱讀如My Two Mums, My Two Dads之類的書)作出懷疑與批判;不但如此,學生更被鼓勵去為學校作出解構評估,看學校是否有害怕同性戀和異性戀主義霸權的傾向(名為“測驗學校害怕同性戀程度”)。三年級學生更被鼓勵在校內舉辦同性戀遊行(Gay Pride Parade),作為提升校內包容教育的行動。此外,學生又被鼓勵監督傳媒的異性戀霸權主義,其中一項活動是由七年級學生從同性戀雜誌Xtra! 中剪報,該雜誌是同性戀群體中甚有盛名,其中有許多不適合兒童閱讀和觀看的圖片。

這種解構教育,直接與不少家庭的宗教,文化傳統有明顯的衝突,若沒有父母的參與,將對孩子的價值系統做成很大的混亂,對父母子女關係帶來不少負面的影響。

可是,文件開首就表明立場,不願父母在這些議題上有所參與。老師在教授這些關於LGBTQ課題時,不需要向家長發出通知,也不需要得到家長的同意(文件第10頁)。家長可以用宗教主場為理由,不讓子女上這些課嗎?課程的回答是:不可以!(文件第10頁)因為對多倫多教育局來說,在“公眾安全,健康,人權,或別人的自由受到影響之下”,學校當局是會限制宗教自由的。

這是令人費解的。父母參與子女在這方面的學習,在家中與子女討論,讓子女以自己的宗教與家庭傳統與老師所教的對話,是帶來最好的學習效果的途徑,為什麼把父母排於門外呢?若父母認為這些內容對子女的價值系統帶來太大的衝擊,暫時不能消化,不讓子女上課,這有什麼問題?父母不是最了解他們的子女嗎?父母不是主導子女學習的最終決定人嗎?

沒有聽,或不認同這些LGBTQ 內容,又怎能等同對那些LGBTQ的學生做成“安全,健康,人權,和自由”構成侵害呢?須知,我們尊重別人的權利,不一定同意他們的想法或行為,這是自由主會,公民社會的基石啊!我們尊重LGBTQ人仕的人權,不代表要放下我們所持守的價值,去認同和支持他們的價值!

若教育局的目標只是達到對LGBTQ 人仕的接納和尊重,為什麼不能接納其他價值系統呢?例如,在基督教傳統內,每一個人都是上帝所創造的,不論做了什麼上帝不認可的事,都是上帝所愛的,不能隨便欺負和傷害。正因為此,我們肯定每一個人(包括LGBTQ人仕)都絕對的價值,絕不能欺凌。

這種“一言堂”式教育思維,是赤裸裸的霸權主義,美其名以價值中性的名稱,美其名是向別的霸權挑戰與解構,其實是建立新霸權主義!

新霸權主義的背後,是安省政府教育廳(Ontario Ministry of Education),安省教育廳在Kathleen Wynne(去年起轉往運輸廳)領導下,獲得省長麥堅迪全面支持,從2008/09學年就開始推行所謂公平和包容教育策略(Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy),全面修改安省學校的課程,清除課程內所謂異性戀主義霸權色彩。其中最為人所知的,就是去年性教育課程的修訂,因公眾的嘩然反對而不得不收回,省長麥堅迪稱之為要“再思”(Rethink),這政治語言可解讀為:等待省選之後將重新出台。

在這新霸權主義的浪潮之下,安省子弟將面臨一次很大的價值衝擊,而父母卻被排之門外,父母教導子女的權益被漠視,被否定,這是十分可悲的事。祈望這次省選討論中,選民在投神聖一票時,不要忽視這極為重要的課題。