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What’s In A Name: Canadian Bill Allows For “Gay-Straight Alliances” Across The Board

NOTE: An earlier version of this post mistakenly suggested the bill would affect schools across Canada. We regret the error.

With a growing awareness of bullying and its effects on vulnerable schoolkids, the provincial government in Ontario is pushing legislation that would require every school, including Catholic institutions, to allow LGBT students and allies to organize school-approved groups—and to allow them to be called Gay-Straight Alliances.

Previously, the Accepting Schools Act would have allowed principals to veto the name of any club.

In a bid to curb bullying with more clout for schools to expel students who pick on others, the bill requires school boards to support student groups for “people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, including organizations with the name gay-straight alliance or another name.”

That language gave schools an escape clause when it came to naming clubs, which can be formed for any common interest or need for mutual support that students identify.

The Progressive Conservatives and some parents and religious leaders have urged the government to remove any reference to gays, lesbians or transgendered students in the bill, saying the mention infers a special status not available to other children who might be victims of bullying for other reasons.

The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association has pushed Premier Dalton McGuinty — a Catholic whose wife, Terri, teaches in the Catholic system — to have any new student clubs aimed at preventing bullying to be called “Respecting Differences” clubs.

In a 12-page missive on the issue last winter, the trustee group did not once mention the word “gay.”

Conservatives might think they can pretend teens don’t have any sexuality, but Broten made the point that ignoring the fact that LGBT kids are singled out for harassment and violence is irresponsible. “If we can’t name it, we can’t address it,” she said. “And we must address it.” Broten hopes to pass the amended  anti-bullying bill before the legislative session ends for the summer on June 7.

Douglas Elliott of the Ontario Gay-Straight Alliance Coalition  voiced his support for the new amendment to the bill—and his displeasure at critics. “If the Conservatives continue to oppose this,” he said, “they’re going to end up on the wrong side of this political question.”



On:           May 25, 2012
Tagged: ,
    • Michael

      Um, the Provincial Government of Ontario is not the Canadian government.

      May 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rusty Redfield

      Michael is quite right. These changes are NOT coming to every school in Canada. They’re possibly coming to every school in Ontario. This article’s premise is the equivalent of thinking that the governor of California makes US federal law. And it’s so poorly written that it’s not clear whether the federal Conservative party or the provincial Conservatives are the ones requesting the changes because, guess what — they’re different political parties!! Because Canadian politics don’t work the same way as American politics!! (If they did, we’d probably be getting country-wide equal marriage around 2075 instead of 2005.)

      #EPIC FAIL

      May 25, 2012 at 6:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Skeezix

      I wish people would retire “#EPIC FAIL”.

      May 25, 2012 at 9:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John McLaren

      Queerty cribbed this report from another US gay blog TOWELROAD instead of sourcing it themselves. Even Towleroad has not amended their erroneous report. They were first with this story and used the “Canada” headline. Another reason not to believe everything you read on a blog where there are not trained journalists who check facts like news sites

      May 25, 2012 at 9:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Hyhybt

      “Progressive conservatives?” I’m not familiar with the group, but isn’t the name more than a little oxymoronic?

      May 25, 2012 at 9:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kevin

      Kind of bad form to include a quote from an article and not mention the source, isn’t it? I don’t know at whom I should direct my rage for confusing “infer” and “imply.”

      May 25, 2012 at 10:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John McLaren


      The party began as the Conservative Party in 1867, became Canada’s first governing party under Sir John A. Macdonald, and for years was either the governing party in Canada or the largest opposition party. The party changed its name to the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in late 1942.

      May 25, 2012 at 10:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MikeE

      @Hyhybt: Canadian “conservatives” don’t compare in any way shape or form to American conservatives. Your Republicans would consider our conservatives far too left-leaning. And WE consider the conservatives way too far right.

      May 25, 2012 at 11:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • David Gervais

      Dan, when you use someone else’s writing without crediting them, it is called plagiarism.

      Kevin is exactly right about making an inference from an implication. Even Lisa and Bart can get that one right.

      May 26, 2012 at 4:24 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tone

      @Hyhybt Years ago a Canadian journalist, author, and editorial columnist named Alan Fotheringham used to characterize the federal PC’s as the “forward backward” party. It always made me laugh because it highlighted the absurdity of their name.

      May 26, 2012 at 5:00 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MikeE

      @Kevin: that would be the actual original source, the Star.com (the “infer” thing), which by the way is an acceptable if archaic use of the verb.

      May 26, 2012 at 7:09 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tom

      this is poorly written either way though god love canada

      May 26, 2012 at 8:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Belize

      A great alternative music scene and things like these are the reasons as to why “Canada sucks” for a number of overtly patriotic Americans. They just can’t swallow the superiority of the so-called Little America.

      No. I am not trolling. But feel free to pour in flag-waving, star-spangled, “all the way from us good ol’ Southern folk” comments which I will not read despite how much heart and soul you put into it. :)

      May 26, 2012 at 9:41 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Belize

      @MikeE: “Canadian “conservatives” don’t compare in any way shape or form to American conservatives. Your Republicans would consider our conservatives far too left-leaning. And WE consider the conservatives way too far right.”

      You forgot how American conservatives are only conservative because they conserve the usage of actual brain power whenever they decide to “share their thoughts.”

      May 26, 2012 at 9:44 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MikeE

      @Belize: As a Canadian, I am always perplexed when I watch American news and hear people go on about “socialism” as though it were some nightmarish evil that needed to be stomped from existence. The majority of western nations are in large part “socialist”.

      May 26, 2012 at 10:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MikeE

      ok, WHY are some of my comments being “moderated”, while others aren’t?
      it would be nice to know which keywords are triggering the auto-flag of posts as “spam”.

      May 26, 2012 at 10:09 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Clockwork

      More tidbit symbolic legislation, good intentions never hurt anyone……

      May 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kayo

      “The Progressive Conservatives and some parents and religious leaders have urged the government to remove any reference to gays, lesbians or transgendered students in the bill, saying the mention infers a special status not available to other children who might be victims of bullying for other reasons.” Oh yes, because when hating egoistical biggots like these people are confronted with bullying the first thing they think is “oh my gosh, what about everyone else suffering?” right!

      May 26, 2012 at 7:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kevin

      @MikeE: Thanks, I’ve now found the original. As to whether or not “infer” is acceptable, I’ll maintain that it’s not. It creates unnecessary confusion (perhaps not in this case, but it’s certainly possible), it’s lazy, and it ignores the root words. Just because it’s a mistake with a long history doesn’t make it any less a mistake. Otherwise intelligent, well-spoken people regularly say “irregardless” nowadays; will that be any less stupid if continued for 400 years? I have no problem with words gaining new meaning as time goes by… but imply is RIGHT THERE. It’s not some piece of jargon or hifalutin literary mumbo-jumbo; it’s a nice, everyday word that means exactly what the author is trying to say.

      May 26, 2012 at 9:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MikeE

      @Kevin: just to be clear: the use of “irregardless” is something quite different from the choice between “infer” and “imply”. The former IS an error. It is a non-existant word. The latter is a choice between two words which have meanings that have diverged over time. That time, by the way, is within the last 100 years. For the largest part of its use in the English language, “infer” as used in the article in question was considered absolutely correct (going back to the early 1500s. Shakespeare himself uses “Infer” to mean “to point out, to indicate”).

      Sorry to play grammar Nazi, but, while I dislike grammatical errors as much as my neighbour, I dislike inappropriate correction of grammar even more so.

      May 27, 2012 at 8:49 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joe Schmoe

      This is a good law. A law against Anti-Semitism was passed in Canada a long time ago. The idea was not to give any special status to Jews, but to deal with the fact that this particular prejudice was a special problem in Canada, at least at that time. During the Trudeau era (I think), this was replaced with an anti-discrimination bill that was much more inclusive.

      Just as Anti-Semitism was a special problem at one time, anti-gay prejudice is a special problem in Canada today.

      GLBT people have made much progress in Canada in the last half century. Note that when Pierre Trudeau first became Prime Minister consensual sex between two adult men (not sure about women) was considered a criminal act! However, this does not mean that the harassment and discrimination has gone away. It’s still rampant in some parts of society.

      May 28, 2012 at 8:29 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Frank

      Go Canada !!

      May 28, 2012 at 1:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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