LETTER: Trustees must act
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In 1970 as a student living in Brandon University’s Darrach Hall men’s residence, I was shocked to see some other residence members physically grab a young, gay man (not a resident) as he walked through the residence and proceed to forcefully give him a fully-clothed “shower.”
They soaked him — or more accurately, they openly assaulted him — and sent him on his way. That action was never reported. Nothing was ever said or done about it. Fortunately, times have changed.
Most adults in this community now at least acknowledge that members of the LGBTQ+ community deserve the same respect as everyone else. Most, but not all people, are content to accept their differences and follow the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Unfortunately, there are still many bigoted, biased, unkind individuals who are very comfortable finding ways to mistreat people with differences in their sexuality and approach to life. I am not sure why they think this way. And I don’t care what they think, but do care when they form their biases and dislikes into actions against the LGBTQ+ community by attempting to limit their access to reading materials in our schools and public libraries.
The individual who recently stole the Pride flags and sexuality resource books from the Bentwood School in Winnipeg is reading from the same playbook as those who want the Brandon School Division and our public library to remove similar books from their shelves. The thefts and the desire to remove specific books are only slightly different actions than the shower incident. The end result of each is the same — trampling on the rights of individuals.
Homosexuality was once a criminal offence, a diagnosed mental disorder and an offence in the British navy that was punishable by hanging. Society has progressed. Canada now has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect all citizens from discrimination.
People who hold discriminatory opinions and form groups to express their beliefs, no matter how righteous and necessary they may feel themselves to be, can not overrule the protections within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The members of the Brandon School Division board of trustees were elected to represent the majority of stakeholders in this community and not a prejudiced minority. I urge the board of trustees to use its democratic voting procedures to act with a single voice to stop any sort of support for discriminatory, non-inclusive educational practices in this school division, including the banning of books.
RICHARD J. OAKDEN