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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 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
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