Current Affairs

School cancels anti-homophobia workshop after complaints from homophobic parents

Katharine Swindells December 27, 2017
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School children


An elementary school in Canada has cancelled planned anti-homophobia workshops, after complaints from parents.

Students at a school in Quebec were scheduled to receive four workshops from non-profit group Prima Danse.

However after just two, the school board cancelled the programme.

In the second workshop, the sixth-grade class had been shown an image from photographer Olivier Ciappa’s series “Imaginery Couples.”

The project photograph celebrities posing as gay couples and families, as a way to show positive reflections of recognizable figures engaging in queer relationships.

The particular photo the class saw was of Canadian football players, Étienne Boulay and David Testo, in a romantic embrace.

Olivier Ciappa

However after the class the father of a boy complained, saying the lessons were embarrassing and inappropriate.

“[He] called other parents, called the school board, and went in-person in the morning to speak with the teacher in question and tell them everything that was on his mind,” Katrina Journeau, director of Prima Danse told CBC News.

He said his child was embarrassed after seeing the photos, and that “students in the sixth grade shouldn’t necessarily need to hear about homosexuality.”

“Sherbrooke isn’t necessarily like Montreal,” he said.

Journeau said these workshops have been given as many as 50 times in the past few years, and that they have never before had any problems.

“These questions have to be discussed with young people. It all depends on the moment, the way it’s done,” Education Minister Sébastien Proulx said in defense of the workshops.

Photo: (PETER MCCABE/AFP/Getty Images)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Quebec Pride (PETER MCCABE/AFP/Getty Images)

Christian Provencher, the school board’s director, says this is not necessarily a permanent move, and that they will be meeting to discuss revisions to the programme.

“We didn’t necessarily pull the final plug,” she said.

“We put all this on ice because we wanted to look at things. We didn’t pull out of the project for the fun of it. We pulled out because there were things that bothered us.”

Quebec has just recently made sex education from first grade compulsory, including education on same-gender relationships, a move that will be instituted from next September.

Tory MP Philip Davies

This year has seen numerous attempts from Conservative politicians in the UK to block LGBT-inclusive sex education in schools.

One MP said that it was dangerous to teach children about “homosexuality and transgenderism,” rather than “well-established benefits associated with being brought up by married natural parents.”

Anti-LGBT lobbyists signed a letter claiming that it was “promoting to children alternative lifestyles against parents’ wishes.”

Related topics: Americas, Canada, Homophobia, school, sex education

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