In June, all public elementary schools in Ontario, Canada will be forced to fly the gay pride flag to commemorate Pride Month. The Greater Essex County District School Board recently handed down the decision. Every board member except for one voted in favour of the policy. “When you’re in elementary school, and coming into adolescence, it’s a very vulnerable time,” said the board’s vice-chairman Julia Burgess, who introduced the motion. “You may not have a lot of peers like you. The Pride flag tells them we have their back.” The board has flown the gay flag at its office and local high schools since 2016. Now, they believe it’s time to bring it to younger children.
But not everyone was on board with the measure. Trustee Linda Quin was the only person who voted against the measure and warned that the board could “mislead” children about gender. “The kids are so young,” she said. “The flag may make them confused. I wonder if we’re misleading them about the idea of gender. We want to be careful.” Quin also suggested that some parents would disapprove of the gay pride flag being flown at their children’s elementary school. “The board should also ‘be careful to protect all other parents’ feelings,” she said, also adding that she heard at least one student say they were harassed by “aggressive” LGBT activists.
Quin argued schools should be “ideologically neutral” and just stick to teaching students “general knowledge.” The board dismissed her complaints and another trustee reportedly cut her off. Burgess insisted on making the policy mandatory and said it was a “commitment” to being diverse and accepting. “It’s a statement that we are going to recognize we’re a diverse, safe, welcoming board.” Trustee Aimee Omstead also suggested it’s best to teach children about LGBTQ issues when they are “very young” so they will accept those ideas by the time they are adults. “If you educate at a very young age, that goes a long way to creating accepting adults,” she said.
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