The Grumpy Giraffe

Critiques on social and education issues

Bill 13: Equity vs. family values

Anti-bullying or social ideology? With the Ontario Liberal government, who is the figurehead of impaling traditional, rigid customs, the former is really part of the latter. As a reaction to Jamie Hubley’s suicide (link and background info at the end of the post), Bill 13 is proposed to be an anti-bullying bill.

Just like SOPA and ACTA, on the prima facie level, this sounds pretty good.

But many parent groups and groups belonging under the Catholic School Boards, Bill 13 is stomping out their beliefs, and for some, this bill is an infringement of the right to practice their religious beliefs. Catholic faith tends to lean towards frowning upon homosexuality, to say the least. The degree of acceptance (or rejection) of the 6 genders (also listed below) varies among individual Catholics, but the general gist is that anything-but-heterosexuality does not exactly earn a gold star in their books.

Moreover, many claim that Bill 13 is just a front for McGuinty’s (in)famously proposed sex ed program where McGuinty says, “Hey! Let’s teach 8 year olds sex ed when they’re still laughing about words like poo and pee and butt!” Great idea, right?

The intention of the bill is good, but like SOPA and ACTA, the methods they decide to enforce acceptance are ridiculous.

In a nutshell, they want schools to have gay-straight alliances. Not a bad idea, but to enforce acceptance is basically legislating morality, which is an impossibility. Not only is it impossible because it really is, but it’s also unethical: one of the first laws of making a law is never to legislate morality — it’s just a big fat no-no.

You can’t make someone accept a social value by screaming at them, “Accept it now!!”, not even if/when you point a gun at their face (and I certainly hope neither the if/when applies to anybody).

So the Liberals propose teaching the 6 genders because they realize that you can’t legislate values. But they’re going to throw that in anyway, just in case it does work.

I think that’s a great idea, but many caregiver groups despise this because they think all teachers will be saying is “sex, sex, sex, oral, sex, etc.” However, this great idea is still pretty preliminary and quite primitive in terms of fighting against bullying.

The bill isn’t even about bullying anymore.

To really fight bullying, you don’t just target its manifestations. Sure, there are gay-straight alliances. Now what? Should we have South Asian groups (my high school did), Chinese groups, Vietnamese groups, Thai groups, Filipino groups, Norwegian groups, etc. It’s good that we acknowledge our differences because that’s the first step. However, we can’t just target specific manifestations of bullying. That’s like trying to kill bees by hitting one at a time, but not taking down the hive. What we need to do is take down the hive, not just slap bees.

The point is to teach about accepting differences, regardless of what they are. You don’t need to point out that someone may be one of the 6 genders to teach that we should accept differences. Once this core value is embedded into students, you wouldn’t need to worry about discrimination towards race, sex, gender, religion, political affiliation (more relevant in high school and up), age, etc. Teach this one core value and you’ve covered 7 or so bases.

I mention that we need to acknowledge our differences because I absolutely hate it when people go like, “I don’t see colour”. Um, yes you do. You can say “I don’t see race”, because race is a social construction, but don’t tell me you don’t see colour. I can see that my friend’s Black, that my anime-loving friend is Caucasian, that my friend who’s part of Free The Children is Filipino, etc. Acknowledging our differences is the first step to getting a solution. “I don’t see colour” is saying, “I don’t care about your individual attributes and needs. I’m going to sweep this under the rug and call it a day because I don’t care enough to appreciate your uniqueness.”


Anyway, the point is to target the root of bullying. We know that bullying is a power game. Why do people get trapped in the power game? What is so appealing? Could it be because our society promotes competition rather than cooperation?

Also, Ontario’s literacy and math scores look like they’re going up, but that’s because we keeplowering the standards so kids get higher marks. I’m not saying that appreciation and acceptance of differences is not important, but you have to get through the basics first.

If you are living on the street in a wet cardboard box, are you really going to worry about getting an iPad? No, you’d worry about your next meal, or where you can sleep without getting kicked out.

We ought to invest resources, not just monetarily, but with the community, into pumping up our kids’ proficiency in literacy, critical thinking and math. I’m shocked that some cashiers can’t do simple arithmetic like $5.00 – $2.75. Knowing my future can’t subtract decimals mentally is really sad. Or what about university students who forget 7 x 6 = 42?

To build a house, you have to have your basic tools first, like a hammer, and also an education so your house doesn’t fall apart.

To build a socially forward society, you have to have your basic tools first, like critical thinking (in language and in math), so your society doesn’t fall apart.

If the cashier serving me can’t even do $5.00 – $2.75, then we’ve got a problem. Fix the basics now, worry about higher order stuff later.


Background info:

Dalton McGuinty recently proposed Bill 13 to be passed. Like SOPA and ACTA, on the prima facie level, this bill has good intentions. It’s to prevent bullying in schools. Schools should have gay-straight alliances or clubs that promote acceptance of the 6 genders (heterosexual, homosexual, transgender, transsexual, intersexed and two-spirited). This is a reaction to the suicide of Jamie Hubley, a homosexual teenager in an Ottawa school.


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This entry was posted on April 7, 2012 by in education, politics, society and tagged , , , , , .


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