Saturday, April 25, 2015

Transphobia And The Home Schooling Agenda

The incendiary rhetoric around the 2015 Ontario Health and Physical Education curriculum is not without purpose. It's meant to scare people -- to vote Conservative (preferably hardline religionist); to bring new converts to the Pro Life movement, which is also anti-queer; and to put that upstart lesbian Premier in her place. One of the outcomes I was expecting was a push for homeschooling, as an expression of religious belief and parental rights. 

And then I found this.

The event is hosted by All Saints of North America Orthodox Church in Hamilton, Ontario. The church's website lists Rev. Geoffrey Korz as the "Priest-in-Charge." Father Geoffrey's email is on the flier. The Orthodox Priest is also listed as the Orthodox Christian Chaplain at McMaster University. The outspoken Father Geoffrey offered his two-cents-worth in  September of 2012, when Dr Steve Tourloukis announced he was suing the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, demanding the right to advance notice of instructional topics that may contradict his family's religious beliefs. From Samantha Craggs' report for the CBC
This isn't the first time this year that the public school board has faced Orthodox parents.
Father Geoffrey Korz, general secretary of the Pan-Orthodox Association of Greater Hamilton, approached the school board in June saying that Christian students are being bullied for expressing "traditionally held moral values."*
About 45 Orthodox members gathered in the gallery to support Korz's presentation to board trustees. He wants the board to establish an "anti-Christophobia committee" and information campaign.
Staff are reporting back on whether bullying against Christians is included in the board's equity policy.
Korz said this week that while his group is not involved in Tourloukis's legal campaign, he is "certainly sympathetic."
 *Data I'm aware of on bullying show that Muslim and Jewish populations are far more likely to encounter bullying and harassment than people identified as Christians. I would surmise visibility of religious practice has more to do with that. The Toronto Police Services Hate Crimes Unit lists the most targeted groups, in order, as Jewish, LGBTQ, black, and Muslim. In 2012 StatsCan reported, "The rate of discrimination experienced among students who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-identified, Two-Spirited, Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) is three times higher than heterosexual youth." Additionally, attacks on LGBTQI persons tend to be more violent, particularly so for members of the transgender community.

It's important to understand also that bullying, discrimination and harassment come from places of traditional power. Thus the term "Christophobia," in a Canadian context, is somewhat akin to charges of so-called reverse racism made by some white people here. Are there Christian kids being teased, even bullied? I suppose there certainly are. The question then becomes, by whom and using what power or authority? LGBTQI people traditionally experience oppression based upon established religious authority, as well as legal and cultural traditions.

But let's get back to the graphic above -- in particular the icon used for "transgender washrooms." 

The message is unmistakeable; though the language is muddled. A "transgender washroom," by nature, would be a third-option bathroom for non-cis users. Depicted here is unmistakably a bathroom for girls, who will become vulnerable if they share facilities with trans girls or trans women. The underlying argument is that a "pervy dude" says he's a girl, so he can put on a dress and get into the ladies' room. This urban myth-making was the basis for torpedoing Bill C-279 in Canada's Senate. 

Dented Blue Mercedes reports that law enforcement has debunked this notion:
Minneapolis Police Department: Fears About Sexual Assault “Not Even Remotely” A Problem. Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder told Media Matters in an interview that sexual assaults stemming from Minnesota’s 1993 transgender non-discrimination law have been “not even remotely” a problem. Based on his experience, the notion of men posing as transgender women to enter women’s restrooms to commit sex crimes “sounds a little silly,” Elder said. According to Elder, a police department inquiry found “nothing” in the way of such crimes in the city… [Phone interview, 3/11/14]
Of course, the reality is that trans people can experience great distress, as well as verbal abuse or violence, in using the bathroom that best aligns with their gender identity. 

What I find most invidious about this graphic is that it basically says the trans-identified person -- a child in this case -- may be a predator. It is an absolute affront to trans children and their parents.

It is also language precisely suited to the task of scaring parents out of the public education system and into homeschooling or religiously-based independent schools.

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