Saturday, February 18, 2012

FCP: Bill 13 is Biased Liberal Legislation

For Immediate Release

Bill 13 - Biased Liberal Legislation

In November 2011, the Government of Ontario introduced Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act. This legislation is presented under the guise of “making schools safe and accepting places to learn” by implementing amendments to the Education Act intended to address the issue of bullying in Ontario schools.

Since then, Bill 13 has been criticized by many Ontarians as favouring the interests of a few. Christina Blizzard (Sun Media) stated, “… the new law has been hijacked by special interests who are more concerned about getting gay/straight alliances in schools than they are in dealing with bullying.” [1]

The Bill begins with very inclusive language, stating that “all students should feel safe at school and deserve a positive school climate that is inclusive and accepting, regardless of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or disability.”
However, it then makes a statement that provides special treatment for four groups. Schools must form clubs that promote gender equity; anti-racism; raise awareness for people with disabilities and gay-straight alliances. Are these 4 issues more important than any of the other multitude of reasons why students are bullied?

Most examples of bullying referred to in the Bill involve sexual orientation. In her second reading speech, Minister Broten stated that 64% of LGBT students claim to feel unsafe at school. This is terrible and should be addressed, however she did not quantify her statement. How many students would this involve?

She accurately stated, from a 2010 report from the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health, that 1 in 3 Ontario students report being bullied at school [2]. Stats Canada reports that 1.7 percent of people aged 18-59 identify as part of the LGBT community [3]. Let’s take that percentage and apply it to a school of 1000. In such a school, 17 students would identify as LGBT. 64% of these students express feeling unsafe at school – which is about 11 students. Yet, one third of all students- 333 students out of the 1000- claim they have been bullied. Isn’t this bill putting a disproportionate emphasis on one group, to the exclusion of many?

Research shows that the most common reason for being bullied is for physical differences – overweight, underweight, facial features, hair colour, clothing styles, etc. [4] – why does this legislation focus on sexual orientation related bullying? Has the government been hijacked by LGBT special interests? An examination of the Liberal Party`s video introducing Bill 13, and the video of Lauren Broten, Minister of Education, being interviewed by Xtra [5], helps to clarify who is driving this legislation. It is not intended to address the needs of the majority, but to indoctrinate everyone on LGBT issues. In the video introducing the Bill, Premier McGuinty makes mention of only one reason for which students are being bullied or feeling alone: because they’re gay. [6] That’s exclusionary.

The legislation is too narrow in its scope, and the government is reinforcing this narrow focus in its promotional materials. If it truly wants to address bullying then this government must amend this legislation so that it states plainly: we will not accept bullying for any reason.

Phil Lees
Leader, Family Coalition Party