Despite more and more high-profile bullying cases being reported in the media recently, in the last few days we’ve seen two anti-bullying measures defeated in Canada. The first was a motion brought forward by the Edmonton Public School District to the Alberta School Boards Association to protect LGBT students and staff from bullying through requiring schools to develop a zero-tolerance policy.
“Our concern was that if you are appearing to promote one group preferentially over the other, that it’s not appropriate,” Calgary Catholic chairwoman Mary Martin said in the Calgary Herald.
ABSA President Jacquie Hansen echoed Martin’s remarks, telling the Edmonton Journal that the ABSA didn’t want a policy that only protected LGBT kids. At least that was a nicer way of framing it than Pembina Hills trustee Dale Schaffrick, who was forced to apologize after telling the CBC that kids should act less gay to avoid bullying:
“If children with a gay tendency appear a certain way, we know that we have to be vigilant to make sure they are not discriminated against,” Schaffrick told CBC News.
When asked if those students should try to be less identifiable, he said, “I think for their own benefit… it would be helpful.”
The idea that LGBT kids somehow ask to be bullied by acting or appearing a certain way, and that their sexual orientation is nothing more than a “tendency”, is obviously ridiculous and offensive. But let’s take a step back again to look at what the more mainstream folks said about why they opposed this motion: because it singled out LGBT students and staff for protection from bullying. Read more
Earlier today, not long after we posted a panel discussion on the subject, Cynthia Nixon released a new statement in response to the controversy surrounding her remarks about whether or not being gay is a choice. Specifically, she addressed some concern that arose around her comments on bisexuality. Here is the text of her statement, as given to The Advocate:
“My recent comments in The New York Times were about me and my personal story of being gay. I believe we all have different ways we came to the gay community and we can’t and shouldn’t be pigeon-holed into one cultural narrative which can be uninclusive and disempowering. However, to the extent that anyone wishes to interpret my words in a strictly legal context I would like to clarify:
“While I don’t often use the word, the technically precise term for my orientation is bisexual. I believe bisexuality is not a choice, it is a fact. What I have ‘chosen’ is to be in a gay relationship.
“As I said in the Times and will say again here, I do, however, believe that most members of our community — as well as the majority of heterosexuals — cannot and do not choose the gender of the persons with whom they seek to have intimate relationships because, unlike me, they are only attracted to one sex.
“Our community is not a monolith, thank goodness, any more than America itself is. I look forward to and will continue to work toward the day when America recognizes all of us as full and equal citizens.”
I logged into Facebook yesterday and saw a link re-post by one of my favourite blogs, Neatorama. The link they were sharing was to a story called “10 Handsome Men (Who Were Born Female)” (they rate it NSFW). Being that Gender Focus tries to cover trans rights issues as much as possible, I clicked on the link, thinking I would find an empowering piece that would help give some examples of semi-famous trans people who are living in their chosen gender.
Then I saw the site that was hosting the article: Oddee. Oddee’s “About” page tells you almost all you need to know:
Oddee™ is an entertainment blog on oddities, attracting well over two million unique visitors each month. Focused on the odd, bizarre and strange things of our world, its daily articles and sections explore subjects from Science to Advertising and Technology; over 15 million pages are read at Oddee™ every month.
The idea to profile some prominent trans people isn’t a problem, and it’s great that Oddee pointed out that they’re all successful individuals. But for a site to do it whose purpose is cataloging the “odd, bizarre and strange things of our world” is offensive and out-of-touch. Trans people are people, not “strange things”. The thing I question is whether this type of article helps cis people gain any understanding and acceptance of what it means to be trans. Read more
I was a Brownie and then a Girl Guide when I was little, so when I saw the recent news about the Girl Scouts of America being boycotted by some Scouts who dislike the organization’s trans-inclusive policy, I wondered what the situation was for Canadian Girl Guides.
First some background on the US situation in case you weren’t aware:
The Girl Scouts of Colorado released a statement last fall after they initially rejected the enrollment of seven-year-old trans girl Bobbi Montoya, who has presented as female since age 2 with her parents’ approval. They reversed their decision, saying:
“Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization and we accept all girls in Kindergarten through 12th grade as members. If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout.
Our requests for support of transgender kids have grown, and Girl Scouts of Colorado is working to best support these children, their families and the volunteers who serve them. In this case, an associate delivering our program was not aware of our approach. She contacted her supervisor, who immediately began working with the family to get the child involved and supported in Girl Scouts. We are accelerating our support systems and training so that we’re better able to serve all girls, families and volunteers.”
In protest, an LA Scouts leader disbanded her troop and three more troops in Louisiana disbanded. But the controversy continues with a recent video released by an (alleged) Girl Scout named Taylor, who calls for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies in protest of the trans-inclusive policy. The original video has been taken down but you can find many video responses (including from other Girl Scouts supporting the policy) on YouTube if you search “GSUSA Transgenders” (the title of the original video). GOOD has this to say about it:
More importantly, she appears not to know what the word “transgender” means. It’s clear no one ever sat her down and explained to her that trans women actually define themselves as women, not men in disguise. She makes no distinction between being trans and being a boy, erroneously stating that Girl Scouts has placed “transgender boys”—rather than “girls”—”throughout America without letting everyone know.” She seems to think trans people set out to deceive other people, rather than identifying with the gender they feel is right for them. Above all, Taylor’s video just proves how badly we need to educate kids about trans issues.
“Scythes, working at the second-floor shop on Yonge St. north of Wellesley Monday afternoon, said he planned to reach out to friends and regular clients before considering a public sale of the iconic, independent bookstore[...]Scythes refused to comment further on the private listing. But in 2010, he told Inside Toronto he was forced to dip into his own pockets to keep the independent bookstore — hard hit by a drop in sales — afloat.
Glad Day has been an important resource for the Toronto LGBT community since 1970. It played an important role in the fight against censorship of LGBT pornography in 2003′s R. v. Glad Day Bookshop. In that decision, the courts found that requiring the approval of the Ontario Film Review Board before films could be distributed or shown in the province was a violation of the freedom of expression.
With so many other feminist and progressive independent bookstores going out of business (I still really miss Vancouver’s Women in Print) I’m keeping my fingers crossed that someone takes over Glad Day.