BURNABY, British Columbia, May 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a strongly-worded news release issued today, Burnaby public school parents and students who have voiced concerns with the board’s controversial “homophobia” policy demanded that the board and trustees cease their own “deliberate discrimination” against concerned parties. They say that they have learned that the original advisory committee on the policy was composed “exclusively” of gay activists and those sympathetic to their cause, and are demanding transparency about any intended changes to the school curriculum.
The Parents’ Voice, a parent-initiated group to connect and inform concerned students and parents, announced a rally and press conference tonight that will outline the “growing concerns” about draft policy 5.45.
The parents believe the controversial policy, which includes reference to embedding gay-related issues into teacher training and student curriculum, will promote homosexuality to their children and discriminate against those who oppose a homosexual lifestyle. Trustees, on the other hand, maintain the policy merely ensures a safe and caring environment.
Parents have also expressed frustration that trustees have not met their demands for transparency on the policy specifics.
To date, the Parents’ Voice said the Burnaby Public School Board has not released information pertaining to planned curriculum changes, committee meeting minutes, or other pertinent information requested through the Freedom of Information Act.
A growing numbers of students, parents and other tax-payers are concerned that the board’s failure to provide full disclosure may be a deliberate attempt to hide the fact that there is a hidden political agenda — an agenda that doesn’t respect parental rights, students’ rights or the equality rights of Canadians as protected in the Charter, but instead serves the political interests of activist teachers and their union.
It is now evident, claimed The Parents’ Voice, that health professionals, religious leaders and members of Burnaby’s faith communities were deliberately excluded from the committee that developed draft policy 5.45.
“Parents’ Voice … learned that the ‘Ad Hoc Advisory Committee’ was comprised exclusively of LGBTQ activists and their ‘allies’. Religious leaders, members of the faith community and health professionals are apparently not included in the Board’s definition of ‘key educational partners’ or ‘allies.’”
The Parents’ Voice asks, “If the faith-based community is not considered an ally, does this Board of School Trustees consider them to be the enemy?”
Some trustees continue to publicly assert that draft policy 5.45 will not result in any changes to the school curriculum, even though the draft policy includes six separate references to curriculum changes. The Parents’ Voice asks, “Why is curriculum mentioned in the draft policy if there will be no curriculum changes? We wonder if the curriculum changes are a part of the Trustees’ hidden political agenda.”
“The Board has, by their actions, created a toxic and hostile environment, and must apologize to the membership of Parents’ Voice and other excluded stakeholders,” demanded the gruop. “The Board has facilitated a proliferation of misleading information, and has played to media madness; and in doing so has offended a large portion of the community.”
“These acts of deliberate discrimination cannot be tolerated.”
According to retired teacher and administrator for the Vancouver School Board, Ben Seebaran of Burnaby, the Burnaby School District’s existing Code of Conduct already protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In a letter to the Burnaby Now outlining the problems with the draft policy, Seebaran, wrote: “The board has lifted large segments of the existing policies and applied them to the proposed new policy. It seems redundant to create a whole new policy that could be easily subsumed into a more inclusive, comprehensive one.”
“It leads me to think,” he added, “ that there may be a political agenda behind the push and to wonder whether the board may be promoting a pro-LGBTQ+ agenda under the guise of prevention of hostility and cruelty among students.”
The Parents’ Voice said that while they reaffirm the need for the protection of the rights of all students in the Burnaby schools, the existing Code of Conduct already recognizes the “diversity of opinion and background.”
“Discrimination which occurs under the existing code of conduct reflects a failure in enforcement rather than a failure in the Code of Conduct. We request that the Burnaby School District strengthen the existing code through better enforcement rather than create a new draft policy which would promote discrimination against a large number of students and their families.”
In addition they demanded that Burnaby School Trustees provide information requested regarding curriculum changes and a 90 day period for parents to review the information before “open and transparent discussions” addressing any additional concerns.