Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Letter to the Buzz: High school teacher speaks out against anti-trans protests in Victoria

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A local high school teacher is using his voice to speak out against the anti-trans protests happening in Victoria and across the country on Wednesday, September 20th.

Ryan Broe teaches high school in Greater Victoria and believes our schools need to be places where children can experience the freedom to explore their gender identity.

This week’s anti-trans protest is organized by Concerned Canadians Standing Together Against Gender Ideology in Schools (CCSTAGIS), and they want provincial and federal governments to ban gender ideology and the overt sexualized materials in Canadian K-12 schools.

A ‘Trans Rights are Human Rights’ peaceful counter-protest has been scheduled to take place during the same time at the Legislature on Wednesday as well, where all are welcome to join – there will also be de-escalators attending to ensure the safety of all counter protesters.

You can read Broe’s thoughts in their entirety below:

The growing street movement of anti-trans hatred targets children this Wednesday, September 20th across the country. Dressed up in a motley costume of ‘protecting kids’ from ‘gender ideology’ and patched with bits and pieces of Qanon and anti-vaccine conspiracy – the dregs of right-wing extremes – they spout their message.

The demands are vague; end SOGI 123 because it indoctrinates kids into gender ideology. Can we explain that a bit more? What does that really mean? Broken down, it tends to focus on a demand for parent’s rights to be informed of their children’s gender expression in school be that in terms of the name or pronouns they use with teachers and peers, the way they dress, or healthcare they seek out or find information on.

At first blush this seems innocuous (leaving aside the dubious history of the phrase ‘parent’s rights’ beginning in the backlash to anti-child labour laws), but let’s delve a little deeper. If teachers like myself were to be compelled to out trans children to their parents, what might happen to those children? Are their homes safe for them to be outed in? The anti-SOGI movement may claim to support parent’s rights, but what that actually amounts to is a parent’s ‘right’ to control their child like property. To potentially deny their child the right to freedom of gender expression and accessing gender-based healthcare. Realistically, this too often ends up with queer youth leaving or being forced from their home and living on the street.

The sad truth is, if a child shares pronouns with a teacher or their peers, but not at home, that is a sign this child does not feel safe to do so at home. Our schools must be places where children experience the freedom to explore their gender identity, to feel what liberation can be and learn to fight for it for all. That freedom is our duty, – and great honour – as teachers, parents, friends, and co-workers to protect, and we must do so with every means available to us. These reactionary movements, like the demonstrators in Victoria this week, seek to end that freedom.

So, let’s look at this group again. Their demands are simple. They seek the elimination of children’s right to safely express their gender in schools. Call it what they may, this is the policy they desire. From the streets to the platforms of provincial and federal political parties this kind of anti-trans hatred and violence is growing. We already see this in Ontario where Education Minister Lecce demands teachers out trans students to their parents and federally where the Conservative Party just endorsed a call to remove the right to privacy between a trans child and their doctor. The writing is on the wall. The immediate goal is not ending one educational policy in SOGI 123, it is the removal of trans presence from public life.

We cannot view in the attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, and trans and non-binary children in particular, isolation. These attacks are about eliminating the rights of trans children, but they are also about building the base to attack sex education writ large, to attack marriage equality, to limit the employment rights and housing rights of trans people even more than they already are. From there, their purview only expands until such rights are gone for all.

Each and every one of us must stand, march, and fight in solidarity with the broader LGBTQ+ community, and youth in particular. These bigoted anti-SOGI and anti-trans movements will not stop and if they are successful, they will push further. Fight in your schools, fight in your workplaces, fight with your unions, your communities of worship, your book clubs.

I am a history teacher, and in classes I have students study the rise of fascism in the 20th century. We learn that some of the first victims of fascist regimes are queer people. The censorship of literature and research, and the book burnings of Nazi Germany began with the trans, nonbinary, and other LGBTQ+ work at the Berlin Institute of Sex Research. This is the pattern time and again. Do not take it lightly when I say that these street movements and the political parties that cater to them are looking towards fascism and marching forwards with no signs of stopping.

To that end then, let us all take a note from the great writer James Baldwin in his letter of solidarity to Angela Davis as she faced the repression of the United States legal system;

“We must fight for your life as though it were our own—which it is—and render impassable with our bodies the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.”

Ryan Broe (he/him)

Victoria, BC

High school teacher

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Victoria Buzz Staffhttps://www.victoriabuzz.com
Your inside source for Greater Victoria happenings. Established in 2012.

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