Not long ago, our fair province had to introduce legislation mandating gay-straight alliances within all schools. If the students request it, schools will allow a safe LGTBQ space for anyone who seeks it. Sure, students shouldn’t have to ask, but at least something is in place if they do.
The Catholic school boards didn’t like the idea initially, but they have found a way to support the ruling within their schools, albeit with a nod to Catholic doctrine. The Baptists, on the other hand, have openly denied their students such a safe space.
To be fair to the Baptists (and I’m always fair, aren’t I?), none of their mostly-elementary-aged children are self-identified as LGTBQ. In this atmosphere of exclusion, even those children who identified as LGTBQ from a young age would shout it from the rooftops, don’t you think? If everyone around you told you that being gay was sinful, do you think you’d risk coming out if you were? Too many LGTBQ youth are homeless because they are kicked out after coming out.
Let me be the one to break the bad news to you, dear Baptists. Let’s say that 1 in 10 or so children fall on the LGTBQ spectrum. (My quick internet research revealed wide variations of this estimate, due partly to people’s reluctance to come out even when asked on anonymous questionnaires.) With 85 kids in their faith-based schools, let’s estimate 8.5 of them fall within a sexual or gender minority. Maybe the extra half indicates a bisexual child (yes, I’m joking; no offence intended, bisexuals).
There’s more bad news, Baptists. Whether or not children self-identify as LGTBQ (and I’m sure you’ve polled all 85 children in your schools, including those in kindergarten), whatever their sexual- or gender difference, they were born with it. Some of your precious little babies came out gay or transgender or whatever, whether or not they (or you) knew it. You may not have wanted them to be, but they were, and they are, and no amount of counselling or censure or denial will change that.
Some children realize from a very young age that they are different, whether or not they can label that difference. I was not aware I was gay from a very young age, although in my favourite picture as a toddler, I was wearing overalls. That would be a sure sign, especially were I wearing a matching plaid shirt, wouldn’t it?
Here’s another piece of enlightening information for the Baptists: one can be well aware of one’s LGTBQness without acting upon it, just as one can be well aware of one’s heterosexuality without having sexual relations with someone of the opposite gender. What is an unrequited high-school crush if not an awareness of one’s sexual proclivities? Are you genuinely worried your Grade 3 gay student will act on his awareness with another boy?
The Alberta government isn’t very happy with the Baptist school board right now for defying their legislation. Meanwhile, the Baptists insist they’re following the law because, since none of their students are gay, they don’t need gay-straight alliances. Wake up and spot the gay students, Baptists. Those students deserve a safe space to gather, especially in your atmosphere of exclusion.