Thursday, June 30, 2011

Anti-Bullying in BC High Schools

Here is the third letter to the editor written in response to the anti-bullying policy, now passed by school administrators...
 

Throw fear outside

 
Burnaby Now June 29, 2011
 
Dear Editor:
 
I appreciate the Burnaby NOW's coverage regarding unanimous acceptance of Policy 5.45 by the school board members. The video posted on Jennifer Moreau's blog demonstrated how well the school board worked with the various subsets of the community for a resolution.
 
However, Burnaby's Parent's Voice group was less than impressed. The video included a woman who claimed she was present to "witness darkness history" claiming the schools will now openly "promote homosexuality." She fears the LGBTQ community "cannot reproduce the next generation." As a person born into a fundamentalist sect, and who faithfully practised for 40 years, my heart went out to her as I realized she sincerely believes in what are typically religiously-defined "family values."
 
The Parents' Voice group may now disrupt the education of their own children. Looking back, in my parental role, I too once would have over-reacted similarly. Those fears were fed by my religious leaders. Such dramatization could be viewed as yet another type of bullying to force a religious agenda.
 
Some might even say the group is now using their own children as pawns to manipulate the school board.
 
Reactions like that would be considered "honorable" and a "sacrifice in the name of God" by hard-line fundamentalists.
 
Too often, religions teach an "us against them" mentality where "we" are always better than "them." Such a mindset does not encourage members to accept the rich diversity around us.
 
I was fortunate to find excellent therapists who validated my anxieties and helped me work through such groundless fears.
 
Religious folk might choose to trust their own scripture that says, "Perfect love throws fear outside." - 1 John 4:8
 
E. Harrison, Burnaby
© Copyright (c) Burnaby Now
Posted at: http://www.burnabynow.com/life/Throw+fear+outside/5023375/story.html#ixzz1QovSEc7h
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Policy on Anti-Bullying in BC High Schools

While the bullying in Burnaby High Schools continues...a writer responded to a letter to the Burnaby NOW editor that was written by a retired teacher/Vancouver School Board Administrator, Ben Seebaran called New Policy has Weaknesses. The response is posted below:
 

Yes, policy 5.45 is necessary

By E. Harrison, Burnaby NOW, June 8, 2011
 
Dear Editor:
 
Re: New policy has weaknesses, Letters to the editor, Burnaby NOW, May 20, from Ben Seebaran, retired teacher/administrator with Vancouver School Board.
 
No reasonable person could object to a policy designed to provide a safe environment for all students. In theory, the Burnaby school board's Policy 5.10 dealing with violence and intimidation or Policy 6.40 on multiculturalism would suffice; nevertheless, the question remains, "have these policies eliminated bullying of LGBTQ students?" Ben Seebaran's question whether the board may be promoting a pro-LGBTQ agenda is worthy of examining.
 
Interestingly, the article Seebaran quoted turned up on www.christianpost.com. The breakaway group of pediatricians who issued the caution to educators might have a religious agenda in saying, "schools should not seek to develop policy which ... encourages non-heterosexual attractions among students who may merely be experimenting or experiencing temporary sexual confusion." Policy 5.45 is not "encouraging" certain sexual behaviours. The [Burnaby School Board] merely desires protection for LGBTQ students who have been bullied.
 
Seebaran's comment, "There is a danger that anti-bullying policies and curricula will discriminate against religious students who believe that homosexual behaviour is morally wrong" leaves one with another question. Is it fair for religious people to attach a religious morality to secular people, who may very well have their own version of spirituality which works for them? Respect for others implies no one needs to emulate anything against their will. So why do religious people feel it necessary to inflict their theology on others? That behaviour could be viewed as "divisive" or disrespectful. LGTBQ folk just want to fit in like everyone else. It would seem that since religions have achieved freedom, these same ones have now become the persecutors.
 
Indeed, lifestyles are influenced by traumatic experiences, and much therapy is needed. Therapists are careful not to judge abuse victims. Judgment and dogma would cause further damage to the fragile balance that resulted from the initial indoctrination. Rather, victims require validation and acceptance of their experiences - very different from "encouraging" behaviours. Some students have already received plenty of damnation from people who are supposed to love them - including parents - and do not need more of the same from religious groups. With a high suicide rate among LGBTQ students, support is crucial.
 
No one expects fundamentalists to change their beliefs, unless they choose to. But it cannot be expected that everyone believes as they do. Policy 5.45 is a healthy initiative that validates a group that has been unaddressed by earlier policies.
 
E. Harrison, Burnaby
© Copyright (c) Burnaby NOW
Published here: http://www.burnabynow.com/life/policy+necessary/4912017/story.html#ixzz1OtM8ZX8E
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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bullying in the Name of God

E. Harrison wrote a letter to the local paper in response to the bullying being carried on in the name of God:
 

Judge Not

I read with great interest the article in the Burnaby NewsLeader called "Anti-homophobia debate packs school board meeting" (April 29).
 
My first thoughts were, "Can anyone believe there could be a debate on this issue?" and "What is there to debate?"
 
I could not quite fathom that someone would protest protection against bullying of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Queer (LGBTQ) folk.
 
Having belonged (in the past) to a fanatical religion I knew at once there is only one segment of society that would protest protection of LGBTQ folk from being bullied: the religious fundamentalists. I recognized the spin, having exited such a group — in my case, the Jehovah's Witnesses. They claim to be a "moderate" religion concerned about preserving their narrow definition of "family" — family, of course being defined as husband (man), wife (woman) plus any children resulting from said union. These so-called "special interest groups" spew hate directly from the church/kingdom hall platforms and even quote scriptures such as found in Genesis Chapter 19 to support their twisted reasoning. For example, they use the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by God as a precedent that "proves" the God of the bible destroyed these cities because the men desired sexual relations with other men, rather than the women.
 
After leaving the religion, I am now feeling concern about the constant cry for more "religious freedom" emanating from these fundamentalist groups who will not openly acknowledge that they are religious in nature. They turn around and persecute and marginalize human beings who desire the same freedoms to choose their private life course. Yet our modern western society seems to put religions on a pedestal that no one is allowed to touch, lest these individuals be called bigoted. Yet, it is these very religions that are spewing the hate and propaganda that marginalize folks they judge. These religious groups feel that they speak on behalf of God, and therefore are above the law.
 
Fundamentalist religions probably don't like to be put in the same box as the Jehovah's Witnesses, but I say why not? — their spin on family values is the same. How fundamentalist religions treat other human beings will come back to haunt them. What goes around comes around. These so-called moderate religious people do not appear to be heeding their own scripture: "… For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap." — Galatians 6:7 (New World Translation).
 
I suggest we treat all humans with respect, allowing each individual their exercise of "free will" to choose what is appropriate for themselves without interference, judgment, persecution or marginalization, lest it come back to haunt such self-appointed judges.
 
This article appeared as:
Judge ye not, should apply in this case
Burnaby NewsLeader
Greater Vancouver
Published: May 19, 2011 9:00 AM
http://www.bclocalnews.com/greater_vancouver/burnabynewsleader/opinion/letters/122237959.html#
 
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