ON Mandates “LGBT Support Groups” in Schools

After several incidents of publicly subsidized Catholic schools in Ontario refusing to allow students to start Gay Straight Alliances, and sometimes even banning rainbows (?!), the Ontario government has announced they will mandate that all schools, both public and Catholic, create “LGBT Support Groups” by this fall.

From The Advocate:

Glen Murray, a gay member of the provincial parliament who attended, told Xtra!

“This is a huge step forward,” Murray said, although details of the plan have yet to be announced. “Rights are never easily won. It’s always a battle. And this is a victory.”

Some Catholic schools have allowed generic “support” or “antibullying” groups, but Murray said McGuinty referred specifically to LGBT support groups. “Starting in September,” Murray said, “it will be students, not principals or school boards, that will decide whether a school has an LGBT support group.”

But Xtra asked Murray’s office whether this would mean we’d see GSAs in Catholic schools:

Catholic school officials have so far allowed the formation of general diversity/inclusion/support clubs but have insisted they have “Catholic names,” such as Open Arms, the name given to the St Joe’s group. And Ontario Catholic school administrators have announced that they are working to develop a “framework for anti-bullying clubs,” while specifically not calling them gay-straight alliances (GSAs).


“Premier McGuinty did not use the words GSAs,” Murray wrote in a text message to Xtra. “He said ‘support groups for LGBT youth.’ Starting in September, it will be students, not principals or school boards that will decide whether a school has an LGBT support group. I emphasize he also did not say ‘generic support groups or diversity groups’; he said specifically ‘an LGBT support group.’ He did not, however, use the words GSA.”

So this is likely a step in the right direction but it remains to be seen what form and function these support groups will take in the province’s Catholic schools. It’ll also be interesting to see if this becomes an issue in an upcoming provincial election.



Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, LGBT, Politics 3 Comments

New Brunswick Doctor Contests Restrictive Abortion Laws

Escort Volunteers at the N.B. Morgentaler Clinic

According to N.B.’s The Daily Gleaner:

A female physician in New Brunswick says the province’s abortion laws hinder her ability to care for patients with unwanted pregnancies and discriminate against her based on sex.

In a complaint filed with the Human Rights Commission set to proceed to a full hearing with a board of inquiry, the doctor argues that complying with New Brunswick’s Medical Services Payment Act forces her to depart from standard medical guidelines.


The doctor, who can’t be named because the identity of all complainants to the Human Rights Commission is confidential, said the rules around funding abortions in New Brunswick make her feel censored without “the ability to do her job as a physician properly for patients with an unattended pregnancy.”

The doctor also argues that being “female and providing sexual health care singles her out for negative treatment in the context of this restrictive regulatory regime.”

She said she feels discriminated against because of the procedural hoops she must jump through to obtain access to provincially funded abortions for her patients.

The physician also argued the act discriminates against women seeking abortions and claimed the province’s restrictive rules do psychological harm to patients.

The 1988 Supreme Court decision which struck down Canada’a old anti-abortion law ruled that accessible abortion was the right of women under the Charter in order to protect their liberty, bodily security, and conscience.

Despite this, New Brunswick will only fund abortions when it is deemed “medically necessary” and approved by two physicians, and only if performed in a hospital, barriers that make obtaining the procedure much more difficult and possibly more intimidating for women.

Read the full Daily Gleaner story here, and a related story at the CBC here.


Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics Leave a comment

FFFF: Masters in Mascara

Current TV’s Erin Gibson tackles the “science” of beauty products:


Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in FFFF, Pop Culture Leave a comment

Rachel Maddow Reviews ERA History

The Equal Rights Amendment has been re-introduced, and Rachel Maddow has this good background on its original introduction and the history of the sexist and homophobic arguments against it:


Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, LGBT, Politics Leave a comment

The Round-Up: June 28, 2011

  • Monica at TransGriot points out that, while marriage equality passed in New York on Friday, GENDA, a trans civil rights bill, died for the 4th time in the New York Senate.
  • Via Human Rights Watch, Marianne Mollmannwrites on why women in politics matter, looking particularly at the case of Lebanon.
  • DC Women Kicking Ass looks at the LGBT women of the DC Comics universe.
  • A sketchy new advertising campaign for the Washington, DC National Museum of Crime and Punishment features black men in orange prison jumpsuits (via DCentric).
  • Very useful guide from Womanist Musings – 10 Things Not to Say to a Trans Person.
  • The New Brunswick Human Rights Commission will be investigating the province’s abortion policy, which only publicly funds abortions in hospitals, and which requires all abortions to be signed off on by two doctors (via CBC).
  • GOOD reports that, even for controlling for multiple factors like prior convictions and crime severity, dark-skinned women are getting harsher sentences than light-skinned ones in the States.
  • The Vancouver Media Co-Op has a great page documenting the stories of women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, in their own words.


Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Round-Ups Leave a comment

The Wrong Argument for Women in Politics

On to HuffPost Canada today, where Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett has a well-intentioned but misguided column on one of my pet issues: women in politics.

It’s no secret that I’m a New Democrat, but as a feminist I have a certain amount of respect for Bennett. She’s brought forward some important but less-than-popular issues like concerns about toxic chemicals in sex toys and she’s one of the leading figures in her party working on increased women’s representation.

Both Bennett and I agree we need to do better on women’s representation in our legislatures: it’s sad that only 25% of our Parliament is women, even if it is the highest number we’ve turned out yet. But where I take issue with Bennett’s argument is the why. In “Why Politics is Too Important to Leave to the Men,” Bennett contends women are innately suited to a peaceful, consensus-based, egalitarian style of governing.

Carolyn Bennett

Bennett uses her background as a medical doctor to argue that men and women think and behave differently due to their biology :”What is discussed changes; more time on health, child care, and environmental concerns. How issues are discussed also changes. More consensus-driven win-win approaches replace the ‘gotcha,’ ‘winners and losers,’ testosterone-driven triumphalism of politics as usual,” she states.

Bennett also quotes The Female Brain author Louann Brizendine (whose research has been challenged on the left and right), who states: “Outstanding verbal ability, the ability to connect deeply in friendship, a near psychic capacity to read faces and tone of voice for emotions and states of mind. The ability to defuse conflict. All this is hardwired into the brains of women.”

There are a few issues with Brizendine’s/Bennett’s argument. First, it’s extremely difficult for biological research to control for social constructions of gender. Biologists like Anne Fausto-Sterling have found that many studies purporting to explain gender differences in terms of biology are in fact mistaking socialized traits for genetic ones. Further, trans, intersex, and non-gender-conforming cis people challenge the idea that there is a biological binary that assigns traits like aggression, nurturing instinct, and cooperativeness by sex. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics 2 Comments

The Women of Star Trek (circa 1993)

An oldie but a goodie: Majel Barrett Roddenberry discusses Gene’s vision for the women of Star Trek. Remember, this is pre-Janeway.


Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, Pop Culture 1 Comment