BURNABY, British Columbia, May 2, 2011 ( – Parents of children in the Burnaby School District of British Columbia are angered at efforts by the Board of Education to adopt a “Homophobia/Heterosexism” policy that they say would promote homosexuality and censor all opposition in the public school system.

Outnumbering supporters by ten to one, over 100 parents concerned parents descended on an April 26 public Board Meeting, where they objected to the new policy, holding signs that read “No to 5.45.”

“The writers of this draft policy have made a fundamental error,” said presenter-parent George Kovacic. “They have attempted to eliminate discrimination against one group but in doing so, they have simply displaced the discrimination from one group onto other groups.”

(Read George’s complete statement here.)

The draft policy, approved by the Board of Trustees February 22, defines “heterosexism” as a “mistaken assumption” that “all people are heterosexual and that heterosexuality is superior and the norm by which all other sexual orientation and gender identities are measured.”  It says it “perpetuates negative stereotypes and is dangerous to individuals and communities.”

By labeling moral convictions on human sexuality “dangerous,” said Kovacic, the policy “sets an offensive tone which is unacceptable from a public education authority.”  The policy would impose on children the idea that their family’s moral beliefs are “perpetuating negative stereotypes,” added Kovacic.

Another parent, Heather Leung, pointed to Article 26.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” 

“The Burnaby School Board must respect the right of the parents to the education of their own children and honor this Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  No school board or teachers should trample over the rights of parents,” said Leung.

(Read Heather’s complete statement here.)

However, lesbian Counsellor and Member of LGBTQ Adhoc Committee, Debra Sutherland, argued the board would have a legal liability unless the policy were passed.  She referenced a situation in the North Vancouver School Board, where she said the board was sued and fined $4000 in damages.

Trustee and policy committee member Gary Wong said the board must examine the laws on the issue.  “There are a number of cases out there where school districts have not done enough in the eyes of the human rights tribunal and have actually been found at fault, and there are penalties involved,” said Wong. 

“It may be very well that we can’t [examine parental views of the policy],” he said. “It’s not really talking about parents not having the right to teach their children. They have every right to teach their children, but the issue is tolerance and acceptance.”

“It makes me wonder,” said Leung, “what is the hidden agenda behind this policy.  Why single out certain groups and certain lifestyles in the name of promoting ‘human rights’, supporting ‘diversity’ and addressing to ‘discrimination’?  Why putting all these names and labels on the school children to segregate them?”

Trustees stated that the draft policy would likely be passed before the end of the school year.  A Policy Committee meeting on the policy will take place on May 16, during which additional feedback will be brought forward. 

The meeting is open to the public for observation only.  At that meeting it will be decided if there will be any changes to the policy.  Following the meeting, there will be a public board meeting for the board members to vote on the policy.

Board Trustees Tony Coccio, James Wang, and Gary Wong sit on the Policy Committee.

The Burnaby Board of Education draft policy may be viewed here.

Board of Trustees Contact Information:
Larry Hayes (Chair)
[email protected]

Baljinder Narang (Vice-Chair)
[email protected]

Ron Burton
[email protected]

Tony Coccia
[email protected]

Diana Mumford
[email protected]

James Wang
[email protected]

Gary Wong
[email protected]