Claiming Space, Identity, and Justice
Edited By Gerald Walton
18. Our Right to Choose:Religious Conservatives VersusLGBTQ Inclusive Schools, by Catherine Taylor
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Our Right to Choose: Religious Conservatives Versus LGBTQ Inclusive Schools
LGBTQ young people are being hurt in hostile school cultures as Canadians dither, citing our reluctance to choose sides between religious rights to discriminate against LGBTQ people, and the rights of all Canadians, even queer ones, to a safe and respectful education. Canada’s constitution is the Charter for Rights and Freedoms, or “Charter” for short. The issue is often framed in public discourse as a stalemate between the Charter right of freedom of conscience and religion, and the Charter rights to life, liberty, and security of the person (Government of Canada, 1982). I believe this representation of the situation to be in error. I see nothing in LGBTQ-inclusive education that threatens anyone’s freedom to maintain negative beliefs about LGBTQ people if their conscience or religion requires them to. On the other hand, I see much in maintaining LGBTQ-phobic school cultures that threatens many people’s life, liberty, and security: sexual and gender minority children and youth, children and youth with sexual and gender minority parents, and conventionally gendered heterosexual children and youth who are sometimes targeted as well.
In the U.S. (Greytak, Kosciw, & Diaz, 2009), the U.K. (Hunt & Jensen, 2007), and now Canada (Taylor & Peter, 2011a, 2011b, 2011c), evidence consistently shows that LGBTQ students experience a hostile environment that includes everyday exposure to symbolic violence (hearing “gay” used as a synonym for stupid...
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