At the risk of being labelled a homophobe ( of course this would be by those who don’t know me, those that do would laugh at that accusation), I’m going to offer a couple of thoughts on the Bill 18 debate.
If you haven’t read the bill 18 debate, the legislation can be found here
I’ll come right out and say it – I don’t like bill 18.
It’s not that I have anything against the intent of the legislation, I agree with that 100%., and to be even clearer, my religious belief are not in conflict and support the intent of the legislation. I have a big problem with the way it is written.
As Manitobans we deserve better, we should expect better. These are our elected officials that have been in power for over a decade. And what do we get? legislation that is purposely worded in such a way as to effect a political response from the opposition. The intent or purpose of the legislation can be political, but the wording of the legislation and the way it is written should be in such a manner that the actual text is as non-partisan as possible. Reading this legislation, one can only assume that the legislation was worded in a manner that this response would be expected and the government could label the opposition as homophobes.
What am I talking about? How about section 41 (1.8)(b)? Yup, that’s this section here:
(b) use the name “gay-straight alliance” or any other name that is consistent with the promotion of a positive school environment that is inclusive and accepting of all pupils.
why is this a problem? Well, for a couple of reasons. Inclusion of one named group by definition excludes all other groups. So by naming ‘Gay-Straight Alliance’ , what happens to other groups that promote the same? Can a school reject formation of a group that provides for the same if a Gay-Straight alliance exists?
Now let’s look at section 41 (1.8) (a):
41(1.8) A respect from human diversity policy must accommodate pupils who want to establish and lead activities and organizations that
(i) gender equity,
(iii) the awareness and understanding of, and respect for, people who are disabled by barriers, or
(iv) the awareness and understanding of, and respect for, people of all sexual orientations and gender identities; and…. 41(1.8)(b)
So what’s missing? We have promotion of gender equity, promote antiracism, promote disability respect and awareness, promote awareness and respect for sexual orientations and gender identities. That’s fine and all good. But what’s missing?
What about activities and groups that promote awareness of and respect for cultural diversity?
What about activities and groups that promote awareness of and respect for religious diversity?
Am I missing something? What about these groups? Why aren’t they specified? If there is a large enough Jehovah’s Witness population in a school they can’t form a support group? What about a Muslim or Hindu group? Are they not allowed to form groups?
I think the intention of and the protections provided by bill 18 are good. But I also think we need legislation that is written in a non-partisan manner and that provides these protections for all Manitobans. Legislation that when someone reads it in 10 years time they don’t immediately conclude ‘oh, this legislation was written by this party’ or ‘ this legislation was written by that party’
We need better. We deserve better.
Unfortunately, that seems to be an all too common refrain when talking about our provincial government.