There’s been a lot of news lately about the Catholic School board here in Ontario. 4000 families are threatening to pull their children out of the system if the school board goes ahead with plans to implement an Equity and Inclusive Education policy, which includes an anti-
bullying, anti-discrimination and anti-homophobia line up. The final debate happens tonight.
Just in case you think this doesn’t effect you, let me tell you about my friend’s 5 year old son. His big sister’s a skater and while she was training, he asked to take a class. A bunch of 10 year old boys from the tennis camp starting taunting him, calling him a fag & saying “look at the fag on skates. Only faggots figure skate.”
So why does this matter? Because those 10 year olds are getting it from somewhere and it’s up to us to stop it.
My friend’s son is not gay, but does that matter? It’s the hate being spewed that boils my blood. And the first thing I thought of were the lyrics Richard Rodgers wrote in 1949 for the musical South Pacific:
You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!
My husband says I live in a microcosm, surrounded by artists and performers and yes, a lot of gay people. And that in the “real world” behaviour like this this is the sad norm.
Geoffrey Tyler agrees. Currently on tour with Kurt Browning in Korea, he puts it this way: “prejudice runs deep. It’s culture. And culture is handed down; To burgeoning young minds who don’t know what they are saying but are trying out their power in the world, and going uncorrected by the legion of adults standing around them thinking nothing of it. There’s a legal term that says: “Those who are silent are regarded to comply”.
Dora award winning Jeff Madden, himself a father of 2 adds “It’s just your environment, I guess. If no one tells you that language is wrong – think South Pacific… “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear, you’ve got to be taught from year to year…”
See, I’m not the only one with that song in mind.
“I recall taking dance classes and doing plays at a young age and guys on my hockey team making fun of me,” says Theatre 20’s Artistic Director Adam Brazier. “My only response was “I dance and hang out with hot, fit women. Odds are I’ll have a girlfriend before you do.” It breaks my heart that this still happens and the people responsible are ultimately the parents and the way they raise their children.”
Do you sense a theme here? Look, I’m not here to preach or to ask you to do something you don’t believe in; all I’m asking is that this generation of parents make sure we’re raising our kids to be respectful, and aware that people may have different beliefs, but people are people, and bullying is just not ok.