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Ontario, Canada Passes Anti-Bullying Bill Mandating 'Gay-Straight Alliances' Be Allowed in All Schools, Including Catholic Ones

Ontario's legislature has passed a landmark anti-bullying bill opposed by Catholics and conservatives by a vote of 65-36, the CBC reports:

McguintyOntario's anti-bullying bill, also known as Bill 13 or the Accepting Schools Act, passed through the legislature just before noon today by a margin of 65-36. Only the Progressive Conservatives voted against the legislation.

Catholic educators and church leaders oppose the bill because it requires schools to allow students to call anti-homophobia clubs gay-straight alliances if they wish.

[Ontario Premier]McGuinty (pictured) said the issue of protecting kids from bullying transcends all faiths and partisan politics. He added Catholics would understand the true significance of the bill is to build a stronger, more cohesive society.


Ontario Poised to Pass Bill Mandating 'Gay-Straight Alliances' be Allowed in All Schools, Including Catholic Ones

An amendment to an anti-bullying bill under consideration in Ontario, Canada would require all schools, including Catholic ones, to accept the name "gay-straight alliance" for anti-homophobia clubs, the Toronto Star reports:

BrotenThe change of heart on the minority Liberal government’s Accepting Schools Act — which had allowed school principals a veto on names for any student club — was announced Friday afternoon by Education Minister Laurel Broten (pictured).

“We believe it’s up to the students,” she told reporters, saying it’s “important for students to have the freedom.”

The move, which has the support of the NDP, comes as an amendment to the government’s anti-bullying bill — which Broten hopes to pass before the legislature rises for its summer break June 7.

Conservatives and right-wing religious groups argue that the new rule would give LGBT students "special status" and The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association urged the school system to call clubs aimed at stopping bullying "Respecting Differences" clubs, in an advisory paper that did not mention the word gay once, the Star adds.

But proponents argue that allowing a principal, for example, to refuse to allow an anti-homophobia club to be called a “gay-straight alliance” is in itself a form of oppression that is inappropriate under the spirit of the bill. Broten has said gay students have been more prone to bullying, which is why they get specific mention in the bill.

“If we can’t name it, we can’t address it and we must address it,” she said.

The amendment was applauded by a group called the Ontario Gay-Straight Alliance Coalition as a step forward for human rights in the province.

More at CBC...

NOTE: Apologies, the earlier post suggested that the law would apply to all of Canada.


Notre Dame Students Demand Adoption of Gay-Straight Alliance, LGBT Non-Discrimination Policy: VIDEO

4to5

Students at the University of Notre Dame, calling themeselves the 4 to 5 Movement, are demanding that the school recognize a Gay-Straight Alliance on campus and adopt an LGBT non-discrimination policy in a new video, called "It Needs to Get Better".

The Observer reports:

"[The video is] addressing the University at large, telling them what the current campus atmosphere is, what the current campus policy is, and how that policy needs to change in particular ways in order for certain groups to actually feel like they're a part of Notre Dame," [Senior Jackie Emmanuel, co-president of the Progressive Student Alliance] said.

The video advocates for a gay-straight alliance on campus and an amendment to the non-discrimination clause to protect LGBTQ students and faculty, Emmanuel said.

Student Senate recently passed resolutions in favor of both additions, and Emmanuel said she hopes the video will alert the administration of student support for these measures.

"We're hoping that [the video] will support Student Senate's resolutions … and then hopefully it will inspire the rest of campus to follow suit," she said.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Josh Hutcherson Offers a Fist Bump for Gay-Straight Alliances: VIDEO

Hutcherson

Hunger Games star Josh Hutcherson and the founder of the Straight But Not Narrow campaign, Avan Jogia, meet with Gay-Straight Alliance Network members to discuss the importance of straight allies.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Education Secretary Arne Duncan Marks First National Gay-Straight Alliance Day with Anti-Bullying Message: VIDEO

Duncan

Obama's Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has posted a video on the White House blog marking the first annual Gay-Straight Alliance Day, which is today.

Says Duncan, in part: "When students are harassed or bullied, it directly affects their work in the classroom, their aspirations for the future, and their desire to stay in school. Gay-Straight Alliances and similar student groups play an important role in creating welcoming, affirming, and respectful schools and colleges – safe places where learning can happen and students flourish. This work is absolutely essential. GSAs are a proven tool for creating welcoming school climates and helping students stay in school."

The national GSA Day is a project of the Iowa Pride Network. Said Ryan Roemerman, IPN Executive Director: “Over the years other states were contacting us asking how they could replicate the event, so we decided to coordinate on a national level. The response from partnering state and national organizations has been extraordinary.”

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Pepperdine University Blocks LGBT Club Because Homosexuality is Not 'God's Will'

Pepperdine University in Malibu has blocked the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance called 'Reach Out' because Dean of Students Mark Davis says homosexuality is against "God's Will", the L.A. Weekly reports.

PepperdineFrom the Pepperdine Graphic newspaper:

From the administration’s perspective, the issue remains how Reach OUT will align with the Pepperdine mission and tradition. While Davis acknowledged that the relationship with the Churches of Christ is important, more central is honoring the biblical conviction that sexual activity should be reserved for a husband-wife relationship.

“Pepperdine seeks to be faithful to this teaching because we believe it is God’s will,” Davis said, “and therefore we cannot endorse another view or take a neutral position on sexual morality.  Although Reach OUT stated in its application that it has no position on sexual activity, we do not believe it is possible for a LGBT student organization to maintain a neutral position.”

A Change.org petition, now signed by more than 4,000 people, has more background:

Until now, the university’s policies have created an atmosphere of silence and anxiety that alienates not only the LGBT student population but also anyone concerned for their well-being. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) likewise expressed unease in its 2011 accreditation report that Pepperdine’s “climate of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’” prevents it from appearing “safe for open discourse.”

Administrators have established a Building Bridges committee in response to some of these concerns, but the committee is primarily generating recommendations that, even if adopted, would not provide LGBT students with a sense of community.

That is why on November 9 Reach OUT applied to become a student organization. On December 13, however, administrators rejected the application. This is the fourth time that a gay-straight alliance has been denied or discouraged from applying.


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