Following Our Children’s Lead

By Jason Menard

It’s about time. Now it’s about time for the rest of society to follow the lead of our children.

The Thames Valley District School Board did the right thing last night, expanding its safe-school policy to include same-sex relationships. However, unless some parents follow the school board’s lead, it won’t mean a wet slap for our society as a whole.

There are parents and groups out there that believe this amendment will lead to schools promoting the gay lifestyle. Like homosexuality is an intellectual virus that once learned will lead to a Queer Eye for the Straight Kid makeover, causing mass Pride parades down the halls of our city’s elementary schools, and a run on Cher memorabilia for the under-12 set!

I’m sorry, but being gay doesn’t work that way. You either you are or you aren’t. I’ve been around homosexuals the better (and I mean that in every sense of the word) part of my life, and yet I remain staunchly heterosexual. You would think that this powerful homo-hypnosis people seem to fear would have, at some point, affected me, but it hasn’t.

Including the understanding of gay lifestyles in our young children’s lives can only broaden and enrich their lives. In the same way that children were once – and at times are still – ostracized due to their ethnic background or religious beliefs, an attitude of intolerance and fear exists in our schools that make it difficult for homosexual children to feel comfortable with themselves.

I thank my parents for raising me in an extremely tolerant household. They taught me to respect and appreciate people for who they are – not who they’re with or what they look like. But as soon as I stepped out of the door, I entered a world where such compassion for others – at least as it relates to homosexuals – rarely existed.

Whether it was in the locker room with my hockey team or on the playground with other school kids the words ‘fag’ and ‘homo’ were tossed around as common insults. Up through high school, people that would never consider using a racial epithet tossed around insults based on sexual orientation without a second thought.

And then we wonder why it’s so hard for gay kids to come out? As a youth, I considered myself tolerant and understanding, but to a homosexual kid did my words – in this case – speak louder than my actions?

I went to a high school with roughly 900 other kids – and none was openly gay. While I may not believe that one in 10 people are gay, I find it hard to believe that all 900 of us were straight. Our culture was just not one where coming out was a welcome option. And I know we weren’t the only school like that.

I had hoped things had changed, but earlier this year, my son – who’s been exposed to gay friends and family all his life – came home and told me that some of his schoolmates were making fun of gay people and saying that they’re bad. The culture of intolerance still exists.

We, as a society, need to view sexuality in the same light as we do race. The only intolerance should be an intolerance of discrimination. We live in a secular society, so religious beliefs should hold no sway over our societal responsibilities. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to all people, straight or gay.

And this decision isn’t about undermining parental rights. I’ve got two kids and they didn’t come with instructions for me to instill intolerance and hate. My parental obligations include preaching love, understanding, and acceptance of our differences.

Hopefully, considering the world we live in now, the Thames Valley District School Board’s decision will help make my obligations a little easier. But that can only happen if we all support its ideals. Kids truly do learn the most from their parents and if we preach intolerance, what do you think are kids are going to believe?

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

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