Ontario elected its first female and lesbian premier Kathleen Wynne last night. Her election also came with a majority government for the Liberals. Wynne brought her wife Jane Rounthwaite up on stage to thank her for her support in a campaign that was largely void of any issues related to her sexual orientation.
In her speech, Wynne called Ontario a "where anyone can be the premier."
"This is a beautiful, inclusive place that we live in," she said.
Thursday's win continues the Liberals' 11-year grip on power at Queen's Park and breaks the shackles of minority government status. It also marks Wynne's first successful test as Liberal leader with the electorate and the second loss served up to Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak - who resigned as leader shortly after the results were announced.
Not surprisingly, Wynne also managed to keep her own seat. She was re-elected Thursday night in Don Valley West - she's held the Toronto seat since 2003.
Context: I teach Grade 8 (13-14 years old) in Ontario, Canada. I am gay, and my students have known this for about a month or so. I am in my first year of teaching, and I teach the class that is considered the “tough” class – they don’t get along well with some of their other teachers, and they can be rowdy. Not so much for me, though.
In particular, I have one group of boys that can be a bit of a pain in the neck. Never keep their hands to themselves, always talk out of turn, have gotten in fights, etc. There is one boy in this group (he will be known here as Harry) who is a little quieter than the others, but very popular. He’s a bit tough to get close to, and seems like the type to be resistant to new ideas and different people. He hangs out with another tough kid (let’s call him Mark), who is loud and boisterous and often rude.
Now that it’s so close to the end of the year, I do a “YouTube of the Day” with them every morning. Kids can send in a short YouTube video for me to show to the class, I preview it, and if it’s appropriate, I play it. So this morning, Harry comes up to me and says, “I have a video I want to play.”
Now, I preview things for a reason. There are enough horror stories out there of teachers accidentally showing their kids porn for me to be very careful what I show my class. So I tell him to send it to me because, y’know, them’s the rules.
“I really want to show it,” he says back. “You’ll like it, I promise. It’s a music video.”
Given what Harry listens to, I’m wary. He listens to a lot of rap and hip-hop, and that’s fine, but I’ve heard some non-school-appropriate language come out of the music he listens to. So I ask him if it’s appropriate for school; he tells me yes.
This kid is many things, but he has never lied to me. Not once. So… I take a deep breath and tell him okay. What the heck.
So he goes on over and pulls it on up, and on comes a song I have never heard before. The artist is rapping about growing up gay, about the struggles of being gay, and about standing up in the face of hatred and homophobia. “Same Love,” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. The video (linked) was beautiful.
And there’s Harry, proudly watching along with the rest of the class as the artist stands up for those gay kids who struggle, and the video shows a difficult, lonely life culminating in a fabulous wedding. Harry. My “tough kid.”
The video finishes, the kids applaud, and I thank him, and he says to me, “I told you you’d like it.”
And then his loud, rude friend Mark says: “That was for you, Mr. K.”
The whole class applauded again – for me this time – and then I cried. I cried the proudest tears I have ever shed.
Harry and Mark… they might tick off every teacher they ever have, but today they gave this teacher a moment he’ll never forget.
tl;dr: Tough kid in my class showed a music video whose message is to stand up against homophobia, and the class cheered.
James Spencer, a transgender student at Clarke High School in Durham Region, Ontario, can't use the men's room at his school despite going through the demeaning chore of collecting signatures from half the student body, Metro News Canada reports:
He’s been granted access to the women’s washroom and a private washroom that needs a key from the main office — neither of which work for him.
“I thought, ‘They’re figuring it out, it’s temporary,’ but as time went on they’re portraying the message that transgender people are wrong and they need to be segregated. And I don’t sit well with that,” said Spencer.
Spencer was born Samantha De Graauw. He began transitioning in Grade 10 while at school in Cobourg. Then the rumours and bullying started. He moved in with his sister and enrolled at the new school in Clarington as James Spencer. Sex? Male.
During his first week and a half, he said he was asked to go to the bathroom at a Harvey’s beside the school while the administration found a solution. Officials deny sending the student off-site.
Cardinal Collins said the Church was taken aback by Friday’s decision because it believed it was on the way to negotiating a compromise. He said he is puzzled as to “why a piece of provincial legislation is being used to micromanage the naming of student clubs” and “why Catholics are not free to design their own methods to fight bullying?”
Cardinal Collins said he would not speculate as to the government’s motives, and was unclear about the role teachers might play in steering a club, regardless of its name, in keeping the club’s agenda in line with Catholic teaching.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says homosexual behaviour is “intrinsically disordered” and “under no circumstance can it be approved.” However, the Catechism also teaches that homosexuals “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”
Earlier Monday, Marino Gazzola, president of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association, struggled to express what the practical difference would be between a GSA or a “respecting difference” club, something his group has proposed.
“GSAs are externally developed and they don’t reflect the unique values our Catholic schools are based on,” he said.
...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.
Tougher consequences for bullying and hate-motivated actions -- up to, and including, expulsion; Requiring all schools to support any students who want to lead activities that promote understanding, acceptance and respect for all; Requiring school boards to develop policies and guidelines that include greater supports for students.
The couple was reportedly booted from the restaurant after complaints from a local pastor who was dining there. The pastor formed a prayer circle in the restaurant's parking lot as the couple left.
There has been some controversy over the protest. Sarah Fraleigh, the former president of Chatham-Kent Pride, said she would not attend the sit-in Thursday afternoon, and CK Pride has refused to support the protest. The PRride group has been accused of cowing to rampant homophobia in the area and not supporting the protest over concern that ties it has to local businesses would be broken.
Watch local videographer DanAge's report on the protest, AFTER THE JUMP...