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The Gay Agenda

Claiming Space, Identity, and Justice


Edited By Gerald Walton

The «gay agenda» is a rhetorical strategy deployed by the religious right and other social conservatives to magnify fear and hostility of queers. Queers are accused, among other things, of strategizing to recruit children into sexually deviant lifestyles; dismantling family and marriage as cornerstones of civilization; and forcing the entertainment industry and court systems to do their bidding. Queers certainly do have an agenda but it is not the one that the religious right claims it is. It is to assert their presence in the public space; claim and name their identities; and strategize for social justice in law, schools, and workplaces. The Gay Agenda: Claiming Space, Identity, and Justice claims and reclaims the language of «agenda» and turns the rhetoric of the religious right on its ear. The contributors provide insightful and sharp commentary on gay agendas for human rights, marriage and family, cultural influences, schooling and education, and politics and law.
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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

Catherine Taylor

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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