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I love Canada, and I think it’s the most amazing place to raise my kids, with a deep understanding of diversity and acceptance of all kinds of people. I’m an upright responsible mother of three, and my biggest goal in life is to ensure that my kids are extraordinary citizens. People who will shape and form the culture we live in, allowing everyone to feel a sense of belonging and respect regardless of who they are. But this week I felt disappointed. Disappointed by a system that stripped many parents of their right to raise their kids the way they want.
Facebook, emails, and social media have been buzzing in the aftermath of Wednesday’s celebration of ‘Pink Day’ at schools across Ontario. Although all schools handled it differently, there were some public schools in the Peel district who took things to the next level. The truth is: Pink Day is awesome. It reflects our need to be understanding of others, and open minded towards differences. Which is ironic, because just this week, I felt a little bullied too for my difference of opinion!
Many parents have spoken up on line as well about feeling hurt because their kids were read a story about a Muslim Pakistani boy whose uncle was gay. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not here to judge anyone. In fact, I personally believe in my child’s right to learn everything about all types of people. I believe that teaching them about differences allows them to be more harmonized in the community they live in.
BUT… I believe that topics that require more in depth conversation need to be addressed more intimately. You see, I’m a parent, and I feel it’s my right to be able to teach my children things that require thought and conversation, without influence from anyone else. And in the aftermath of Pink Day, I feel my right was violated. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against homosexuals rights, as I do respect everbody’s right to what they believe. My beliefs teach me to love all people, but the mother in me won’t let me love those who have bullied me into becoming a passive parent. I would have taught my children about homosexuality when I felt the time was right.
If my four year old came home from school and asked me why his friend has two moms, I would sit and tell him all about how people are different and how he needs to understand that everyone chooses to live their life according to what they feel is best.
Yes. That’s exactly what I would have taught him. I wouldn’t have told him to hate this friend or make fun of him in the play ground. I would have taught my child to understand that not everyone is the same.
If my six year old brought home a library book about a family with two dads, I would read her the book, and talk to her about how she felt after reading it. I would tell her that people do things differently everywhere in the world, and give her examples of families of single parents, and grandparents who raise their grandkids when their parents are no longer alive.
Yes. That’s exactly how I would have explained it to her. I wouldn’t tell her to return the book back to the library. Or never to look at something like that again. I wouldn’t stop her from learning something that she wants to know more about. I would teach her to understand diversity.
And if my 10 year old would tell me that there is a girl in her class who likes another girl, I would have told her that people make their own choices to be who they want to be, and we have to respect them regardless of whether we understand them or not.
Yes. That’s exactly what I would have told her. I wouldn’t tell her to act disgusted by the girl, or make this girl feel uncomfortable. I would have helped my child see others without bias.
Parents out there don’t have to agree with my approach, you don’t have to do as I would with my own children, but the beauty of this is that I get to choose, and so should you. When my children come across homosexuality on their own – I want to be able to teach them. Just like any other thing in life, it would be a privilege as a parent to have these conversations with my kids. I would want to hear what they would have to say, which would give me a chance to open their minds and explore their thought process, and really help them gain a more meaningful understanding of people, preferences, and behaviour.
Teaching your children to cook, or to camp outdoors, or to drive, are all great experiences that parents have rights to. I would feel violated if someone took that away from me. And just like that, all important things which need to be discussed and explained to children in a personal intimate conversation can’t be justifiably discussed at an assembly at school where a book is read to the kids.
That’s not fair.
As a parent, it’s my right to teach my children, when I think they are ready to talk about something, and when I feel like the conversation will benefit them.
What happened across several Peel Board Schools this week was hurtful and saddening. I’m outraged as a mother. Those teachers took our rights away as parents. How could they think that we would teach our children to hate? How could they think that we would teach our children to be bullies? How could they think that we would let our children turn into monsters? The truth is: we wouldn’t.But now we’ll never know, because the school board took away the opportunity for us to be able to make the decision on when we should have this conversation with our kids.
In reality, I feel it’s these types of random moments of exposure which confuse our kids and it teaches them to formulate quick and unstable opinions. I don’t think any teacher who read the story to her class took the time to sit down with every single child and really give them the time and attention they need to be able to understand human behaviour and hear them out for how they felt about it.
I am deeply disappointed in the education system that runs on my tax dollars. The school board doubted my ability to be a good mother, and I will always resent that. I work hard to ensure I raise outstanding citizens for tomorrow, but how am I supposed to do my job right, and raise my children to trust and respect me, when I’m not even given the opportunity to parent them the way I want?
I’m fortunate that my kids fall under the jurisdiction of the Halton Board. They celebrated Pink Day by wearing the color. Their teachers spoke to them about tolerance and respect and acceptance. They heard stories of bullies and upstanders, but no one came home confused. The school did a wonderful job of reinforcing something I have been teaching my children all along, and I love Pink Day for what it truly represents – anti bullying.
But to my friends out there whose kids go to Peel Region schools, and had children who heard the story ‘My Chacha is Gay’, my heart goes out to you all. These schools stripped you of your chance to have that conversation with your children, and that wasn’t fair. And to the writer of that book, your heart might have been in the right place, but your story left most of us Pakistanis feeling misrepresented. You didn’t create awareness for what you wanted; it only hurt a number of parents who deserved to handle things their way.
I don’t want to raise my children to live in a box or to jump to conclusions without going through a meaningful thought process. The truth is we need to teach our children about all types of people in this world, whether or not those people make us uncomfortable. But ONLY when we feel our children are curious to know more about them. I feel violated as a parent. I feel like the school board bullied parents and kids into a conversation they weren’t ready to have. Canada, I know you have more potential than this. You’re known as a mosaic where culture and beliefs come together in a beautiful blend. So let me be the best parent that I can be, and I can assure you, your citizens will outshine the world in tolerance, acceptance, and diversity.