Concerns over sexuality issues, particularly in regard to LGBQT issues, were raised by Stoughton resident Bobbie Jo Graham to the board of trustees for Southeast Cornerstone School Division at their monthly meeting on Wednesday.
She was accompanied by 11 residents from Stoughton and Weyburn, who sat in the gallery during her presentation.
Holding up a copy of a 2015 booklet provided by the Ministry of Education, Deepening the Discussion: Gender and Sexual Diversity, she said it appears to be divisive and gender privileged from her perspective, and that gender changes are not to be assumed by teachers and confidentiality issues arise as a result.
“Parents have lost the right to know if their children are involved with different groups, such as with the gay-straight alliance. If a child has confided that they are LBGQT, parents don’t have to be notified. When did parents lose their rights? They have a right to know what is going on,” she said, adding that school staff have not replaced the role of the parent.
She also noted that gender diversity is not taught as a subject in school, but it’s integrated into the curriculum of all subjects, whether it’s math, social studies or art, and “it begins in Grade 1. Is the subject of gender diversity appropriate for a six-year-old to be learning about?”
She added that if a parent does not want their child to be subjected to this education, the only option is to withdraw their child from school, and this is simply not a viable option for most parents
“The Pride movement has moved away from promoting equality of rights,” to now being much more provocative and sexually explicit, said Graham, using an example of various Pride parades that promoted that base “behind the equality façade.”
Graham said young children are now being exposed to this reality and Pride may be destroying boundaries while educators with only four hours of training in sexual diversity need to be sure the information they impart is unbiased and neutral while being taught.
“This is not a black and white topic. Not all information is correct and professionals don’t always agree,” Graham said, adding that for instance a sex assigned at birth may change once the person becomes an adult or it may change while the person is maturing.
Graham asked, “are teachers taking over mental health training? All sides should be taught about transgender and transitioning and drugs used and their side effects. It’s more than just painting a crosswalk or flying a flag. … There is much more to this issue than waving a flag.”
She said the Canadian flag was removed from the Stoughton School twice in favour of a Pride flag, and said this was an insult to veterans who fought and died for the Canadian flag.
“Are LBGQT rights more important than Islam, Christianity or Judaism?” she asked.
“I feel this (issue) needs to be treated with kindness and understanding, just don’t do it under the Pride umbrella. … We as parents are allowed to question what our children are being taught,” Graham said. “We’re not bigots, we’re just asking questions.”
Graham was thanked by Cornerstone board chairwoman Audrey Trombley, who advised the group of SECPSD’s vision statement of success and achievement for every child in every school and that all students need to flourish “in a safe and welcoming environment to achieve personal growth, learn social skills while understanding differences.”
Trombley went on to say, “we have 8,300 unique children in our schools and we are here to meet their needs.
“While we respect the religious rights of parents and students, those rights do not trump human rights of children in our system. We are supported by the Education Ministry and we don’t promote any sexuality or genders. We promote a safe and caring, welcoming and embracing environment for all. You have raised interesting perspectives and questions,” said Trombley who assured Graham she would receive a Cornerstone response in writing in the near future.