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Complaint letter prompts debate on inclusive education in Newfoundland and Labrador

The rainbow pride crosswalk outside Corner Brook City Hall is seen on Tuesday evening.
A pride-painted crosswalk. - SaltWire File Photo

'Normalize love and people in all shapes and forms’

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Reaction to a Telegram story about inclusive education sparked a social media debate over the weekend.

The story revealed a parent’s complaint to the provincial government, as she insisted that elementary school children are too impressionable to be taught about inclusive education, and she doesn’t want “rainbow” symbolism in schools because of its specific connection to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, queer-plus (LBGTQ-plus) community.

The parent’s name was redacted in keeping with privacy rules.

“My concern is what my five- and seven-years-olds are being taught in school,” the woman wrote in the letter, which was supplied to The Telegram in response to an access to information request to Premier Dwight Ball’s office.

“They are being taught about marriage, about different romantic relationships/familial settings that children are a part of or a product of. My child, who is not yet able to think before he speaks, is being taught about transgender, bisexuality, homosexuality and more in their school and it is said to be part of the inclusive curriculum.”

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Brian Warr’s response defending inclusive education was also sent to The Telegram.

Comments on The Telegram Facebook page posting of the story continued the conversation.

A selection

Amissa Singh: “My son loves rainbows, everything rainbows and colours. He says colours make him happy. I don’t teach anything to them about anything and I don’t make a point about the symbolism. He knows love is love no matter what and that people and families come in all forms. This lady is making a bigger issue out of nothing. We are all the same at our core. If you make a big deal out of something it becomes your issues and you plant the seeds of doubts. Normalize love and people in all shapes and forms.”

Larry McCarthy: “Public/private education has never been exclusively rooted in the 3 Rs. The best education is one that prepares young people to function in and contribute to a broader, cohesive society, where every person is treated with dignity and respect. Governments provide and pay for public education for that very reason. Parents can deliberately, or even inadvertently, share their own biases/misinformation with their children, leaving that child and society at a disadvantage."

Linda Clark-Babstock: “Where’s the empathy here for another’s point of view? I may not agree with some of the opinions here, but I certainly respect them. Putting others down because they see things differently is a problem.”

Gill Dawe: “Wow that is a frustrating letter. What parent actually thinks that the only things their child learns at school is math, science and language arts? Even outside of the actual curriculum, your children are learning all about the world from other children’s experiences. Wouldn’t it be better to be learning about these things from an actual trusted and approved source, as opposed to playground childhood gossip? Not to mention the fact that some children are already feeling differently, are already feeling trans or attracted to the same sex. Isn’t it important to let them know they aren’t alone? That what they are feeling is normal? And to say that children are not the product of these relationships? There are plenty of children with two moms or two dads who are in our school systems. If you want your children to go to a school where they don’t find out about gay people, maybe try time traveling back to a school in 1950.”

"There are plenty of children with two moms or two dads who are in our school systems. If you want your children to go to a school where they don’t find out about gay people, maybe try time traveling back to a school in 1950.” — Gill Dawe

Anne White: "I agree that children should be taught to have respect and understanding for others. However, as a parent of a gay son it is also important to understand the concerns of others. Therefore, the education systems needs to learn that children under the age of 10 are not quite ready for these realities. We teach so that my grandson understands that people are different, whether gay or handicapped. Everyone is different. But for some parents, who are not exposed to the differences in their daily life, this can be very frustrating.”

Ray Cranford Jr.: “Wish they had of had that type of education when I was a kid going to school. Seen lots of kids laughed at, ridiculed even if suspected they were different basically because we didn't know any better back then and anything we don't understand or taught about then you fear. Luckily, I have great parents growing up that taught me the difference between right and wrong and instilled accepting morals. I'd be more concerned about what that lady’s children are being taught at home than what they are taught in school if she’s that miserable.”

Karleena Squires: “Essentially the pride flag represents all those who are non-straight, and those who identify as different genders other than those they were assigned at birth. So what you’re saying is there’s no straight pride flag, get to the point."

Michael Stringer: “Right, so now I'm looking at all the bright colours and don’t look at the person crossing the road. Leave safety of the road alone and paint your rainbows on a part of the road (there is a lot of blank road space) that doesn't impede safety. Maybe I'll go out and paint a crosswalk with dragons on it and hope that everyone still knows it is a crosswalk.”

Stephanie McGrath: “I believe that children need to learn this at an early age. There are children who live with same-sex couples. I believe that if children are taught early they will grow up to accept these people. I am teaching my five-year-old to accept people, to accept everyone no matter their race, culture, sex. We are all human no matter what.”

Jessie Diane Ryan: “Sorry to tell you lady you cannot make a straight child LGBTQ2 any more than you can make a LGBTQ2 heterosexual. The thing is you, schools and your general community can help your child become more accepting and appreciative of those who are different from you whether that is ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or different physical or mental abilities.”

Twitter: @BarbSweetTweets


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