Dara Parker: Opposition to Vancouver school board’s gender policy rooted largely in fear and ignorance
Last week, I spent 5.5 hours listening to opponents protest proposed updates to the Vancouver school board’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policy.
It was depressing.
A vocal minority packed the boardroom for three meetings in a row, forcing a strict monitoring system to ensure that only Vancouver residents were permitted in the room (ID was checked). The overflow room adjacent to the boardroom provided a live stream of the proceedings and had standing room only.
For many of us it became increasingly difficult as the night wore on, to listen to a non-stop tirade against the LGBTQ community. The feedback was rooted largely in fear and ignorance.
- “Trans* kids commit suicide because of regret, not bullying.”
- “Kids will be indoctrinated in the gay lifestyle.”
- “Trans* folks are the by-product of their parents having eaten too many GMOs.”
I imagine this is what our queer pioneers faced 30 years ago, when they were trying to achieve the simple right to teach in schools, marry their partners, or challenge the notion that we are mentally ill.
Apparently this work is not done.
For me, the most disturbing part was listening to the many people in opposition who began their arguments by professing to have “no problem with the LGBTQ+ community”, before proceeding to passionately defend the status quo with what, at times, felt like thinly veiled hatred. And when that didn’t work for the opposition, voices were raised, people cried, people yelled, and (literally) stomped their feet in semi-hysterics. One woman had to be escorted from the room when she refused to stop yelling at the microphone.
I’m unclear why we’re debating human rights in the first place.
This month was a stark reminder that many children in our community don’t have safe environments where they can come out. Which is exactly why this policy at the Vancouver school board is critical; we need to ensure that all of our children are safe and included.
I am proud to say it was also an opportunity for families to lead the way in teaching all of us how to provide unconditional love, acceptance, and support. Fiona Chen is just one of these incredible parents leading the way.
While I am saddened by those who want the LGBTQ movement to regress, I am thankful for the many who came out to support us, hold signs, cheer, and sometimes groan when necessary. We were there to bear witness.
Together, we can effect change.