Response Form on the Human Rights Draft Policy andA Task Group including students, parents, community representatives, staff and trustees of the Toronto District School Board met for the first time on April 28, 1998, to develop a Human Rights Policy and Procedures based on the policies that existed in the former school boards and to adhere to legislative requirements.
discrimination and harassment and to respond speedily to breaches of this Policy when they occur. The Board recognizes that preventative education and proactive practices are the best long-term strategies to achieve an inclusive learning and working environment. It is essential, therefore, that Toronto District School Board programs, curriculum, teaching methods and management practices support the values embodied in this Policy."
"Support and Assistance for the Targets of Hate Group Activities
Groups or individuals targeted by hate groups need to be given support and assistance. The appropriate supervisory and managerial personnel shall consider one or more of the following responses:
Inform the parent community and employees
Design pro-active programs for students and staff
Establish a reporting system, which encourages students, staff, and other users to report
activities by hate groups to supervisory and managerial personnel."
These clauses imply that teachers and/or supervisors and managerial staff are obliged to teach specific classes, which promote the equality or ‘normalness’ of all groups covered under the Human Rights Policy. To me, this would mean the inclusion of Sexual Orientation (or more specifically homosexuality or bisexuality). As another of the groups protected under the Human Rights Policy includes Creed, I worry about a conflict in maintaining the rights of both as curricular material teaching the ‘normalcy’ of the first aforementioned impinges on the rights of the latter aforementioned, and vice versa.
If there are to be curricular materials promoting the lifestyle of homosexual or bisexual lifestyles as acceptable choices in human behaviour, then these classes must be announced within a reasonable amount of time and in all languages pertinent to the multicultural population of each individual school district. Parents have the RIGHT to informed choice in the material being taught to and graded upon their children, especially those parents who fall under the protection of the Policy’s definition of Creed:
" (Creedis defined as a professed system and confession of faith, including both beliefs and observances or worship. A belief in a God, or gods or a single supreme being or deity is not a requisite.)"
Therefore, if a class including such aforementioned material is to be taught by a teacher, and there are students who wish to be excluded from such curriculum, then it is the responsibility of the teacher and the school to provide supervised alternate material and or activity directly related to such curriculum with corresponding grading.
In the same, if such material (teaching of homosexual or bisexual behaviour) is to be included in the curriculum, then it stands to reason and equality "…the Board upholds and supports the right to equal treatment without discrimination…" that the religious teachings of such behaviour be included in the curriculum, without bias, judgement or condemnation of such teachings.
"Poisoned learning environments include inappropriate or non-inclusive curriculum and pedagogy, bias or discriminatory barriers in existing policies, programs, or assessment procedures, and discriminatory comments made by teachers and other employees."
No, it actually threatens the rights of those who are supposed to be protected under the definition of Creed by the clauses:
"Hate group behaviours:
"Homophobia is an irrational fear and negative attitude, feeling and belief about homosexuality. Homophobia can range from hatred and extreme fear of gay men and lesbians to feelings of disquiet or discomfort."
"VI. HATE GROUP ACTIVITIES
Hate group activities represent some of the most destructive forms of human rights-based discrimination by promoting hatred against identifiable groups of people. They generally use racist, anti-Semitic, sexist or homophobic language to label and disparage their targets who may also include immigrants, people with disabilities or members of particular religious or cultural groups. Historically, hate groups have been associated with beliefs of racial or religious supremacy. Hate group activities will not be tolerated. Such activities contravene this Policy, and other potential board policies related to school safety and may also contravene the Criminal
Code of Canada."
Such statements leave students and staff who follow the scriptures of the three monotheistic religions; Islam, Christianity and Judaism, liable to charges of discrimination for upholding their beliefs. In these religions, homosexual behaviour IS considered deviant behaviour and it is not an irrational nor negative belief. These clauses are discriminatory in themselves as they specifically target members of the aforementioned religions for their adherence to such beliefs, automatically labeling them homophobic, and promote charges of Hate Group behaviour, and leaving vulnerable any person who influences another to embrace the teachings of one of the three aforementioned religions to be charged for recruiting hate group members
"Ontario Human Rights Code: Human rights law prohibits the creation and/or fostering of negative or poisoned environments that threaten basic human rights."
These clauses are in direct conflict to the above quote regarding the Ontario Human Rights Code, as they are specifically designed to immediately foster such negative and poisoned environments for students and personnel who uphold the religious beliefs of their respective creeds.
"Systemic discrimination: arising from policies, procedures, practices and conduct which may not be discriminatory in their intent but adversely impact individuals or groups protected by this Policy where the adverse impact arises from one of the prohibited grounds of discrimination."
The clauses quoted in the answer to question #2 need to be revised to protect the rights of those who sincerely believe that homosexuality is a sin according to their religion. If a student is not allowed to voice his opinion in a class setting which is teaching something contrary to his scriptures, then he is being discriminated against and his religion is being used to condemn him.
The area of religion must be addressed to protect members of the three monotheistic religions from undue accusations and liability. Belief is not discrimination, and should not be labeled so. Islam, Christianity and Judaism are not hate groups and the Policy must reflect the understanding that members of these religions are not liable to charges of discrimination for adhering to the dictates of their specific scriptures, teachings, and laws, nor can they be charged for displaying symbols identified with hate groups for merely observing religiously mandated or commonly worn clothing such as a headscarf or hat, (e.g. Muslim hijab or kufi).
"Hate group activities represent some of the most destructive forms of human rights-based discrimination by promoting hatred against identifiable groups of people. They generally use racist, anti-Semitic, sexist or homophobic language to label and disparage their targets who may also include immigrants, people with disabilities or members of particular religious or cultural
groups. Historically, hate groups have been associated with beliefs of racial or religious supremacy. Hate group activities will not be tolerated. Such activities contravene this Policy, and other potential board policies related to school safety and may also contravene the Criminal Code of Canada."
"Symbols Identified with Hate Groups
In the event that symbols and other representations clearly identified with groups which promote hate and violence are displayed, supervisory and managerial personnel may exercise discretion in reporting the matter to the police but in all cases shall investigate the matter in accordance with the Managerial Resolution procedure (Appendix F)."
Specific clauses must be included within the policy to clearly protect religions from being targeted as being labeled as hate groups, members of said religions as hate group members, religious clothing as symbols of hate groups, and conversion into such religions as recruitment into hate groups. Without such a specific clause, this policy leaves a void in the protection of those who are supposedly protected under the definition of Creed.
I feel that the open endedness of this policy has left the potential of great upheaval in the student body of the Toronto District School Board. I believe it will be the catalyst to the pitting of the gay community against the religious community and that schools have been the chosen battle ground, our children the soldiers and casualties.
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