Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Enforcing ignorance and discrimination: Alberta bill 44 and California

Sad news today coming from the California supreme court ruling in favor of proposition 8. It is really heartbreaking that with all of the progress the lgbt community is making we are still facing huge setbacks. Most of the time these setbacks are the direct result of organized conservative religious groups who use faith as a shelter for bigotry and hatred.

I blogged a while back about Alberta's Bill 44 that would included sexuality under the Alberta Human Rights act. This has been long overdue and at first the bill seemed like it would be a great acknowledgement of equality.

Unfortunately this is not the case. Hidden in the bill was an inclusion of a section to appease the religious right in alberta. The bill would allow parents the right to remove kids from the classroom if the topic of sexuality or sexual orientation is brought up. This would also open up teachers to be prosecuted by the human rights commission in cases where they did not comply with a parent's wishes. This basically means that school curriculum becomes dictated by the religious minority in this province.

The legal and ethical issues that this bill brings up are numerous and far reaching and I would rather not get into them here as I am no legislative expert. What concerns me most is that this trojan horse bill is attacking the lgbt community at our point of strength.

They say the bill is intended to protect gays but really all it does is allow others to protect and ingrain ignorance into future generations. Overall we are winning the culture war. It is becoming a generational divide. Younger people are more likely to approve and support gay rights. I think much of this is due to that fact that so many people are coming out at a younger age thanks to overall cultural shifts and the support of education. When I was in high school there was no diversity club or safe place for lgbt people to go when they needed support now the majority of schools have something like that.

People are more likely to support us if they know us if they hear our stories and find out that yes we are like them and deserve out rights as well. This bill takes away our most powerful weapon which is truth.

Only in Alberta can a supposed "gay rights bill" end up leading to more hatred and violence. In many ways i see this is the direction the culture war is going to take. The conservatives are loosing terribly in demographics and pretty much on every other culture war front. I see them making a gambit on this sort of trickery which ends up giving them increasing power over education.

Unfortunately for them it is not going to work. They cannot force the wave of young out gays back in the closet. It is these brave souls that are the ones educating peers on sexual orientation just by living lives without fear or shame. Previous generations of rights activists have built a platform where it is more acceptible to come out now than ever before. This really is where the culture war is being won.

I have friends that are teachers and this bill worries me more for them than for myself. Gay rights are coming we are winning the war. This bill wont change that but it will make it harder to get to the goal of equality.

Let the Alberta government know your opinions by contacting Lindsay Blackett here.

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