(On September 28th, The National Post ran an ad from Charles McVety‘s “Institute for Canadian Values,” which tried to allege that LGBT-positive education would confuse children about their gender. This was sent to the paper at the time, and the Post has since pulled those ads, and publicly apologized)
Apparently, Charles McVety is confused. No, not about the bogus doctorate he likes to pretend is earned and recognized. We know about that part, already.
No, he’s convinced that teaching kids and teens to co-exist rather than bully youth who might seem different will cause them to become confused about their gender (either that, or he’s fumbling about for another 15 minutes of fame, and not worried if he embarasses The National Post in the process). That only works if you subscribe to the “heads as empty vessels theory” that postulates that they just accept anything that we put in there. Underlying the fear of gender identity -inclusive education is a belief that kids are vulnerable to ”recruiting,” which is an argument that only works if you believe that kids have no will of their own and that one’s gender identity is entirely a choice – my experience tells me otherwise on both counts.
Mr. McVety must think that being trans is pretty exciting if he believes that merely hearing about it would cause someone to make such a life-changing decision and risk the rejection of their peers. But then, if he does think it’s that exciting, that would be consistent with the tendency of people in glass houses to throw the most stones.
It may surprise Mr. McVety that as an advocate for transsexual and transgender people, my advice to someone who comes out as trans is, “transition is only something you do if there is a serious and pressing need.” This is because I know it is a difficult road to travel, and the attitudes one is faced with can be quite painful. But for those who do transition, it is an undeniable requirement for them to be able to build a life for themselves that fits. This is why — on the strength of nearly five decades of study — the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the Canadian Psychological Association and all other authoritative medical bodies recognize the need for transition and surgery to accomplish this.
So there really is no confusion. You can’t contract confusion about your gender from learning to not beat up trans or gender non-conforming kids. But you can, however, be confused about why a middle-aged preacher might see you as someone so horrible that the school should be evacuated the moment someone wants to teach your classmates why they should respect you as a human being.
Kids — trans or otherwise — absolutely do have a need and a right to be affirmed as people, no matter how they might identify themselves. In a society that is still so entirely pervasive with homophobic and transphobic attitudes and disenfranchisement, failure to support students’ identities becomes a suffocating vacuum of terror. It’s a literal hell to live through.
Mr. McVety might have better luck drumming up support for a for a religious exemption from LGBT-positive teaching if he wasn’t busy kicking the “sissy” kid, and demonstrating in plain and clear fashion why this education is necessary. But for now, the mere absence of bullying — assuming that any policy could actually guarantee it in real life — is not going to accomplish an environment where kids are able to live and breathe and find the freedom to become people functioning at their fullest potential. Condemnation of sexual orientation and gender identity is still so pervasive in our society — and sometimes even in kids’ own homes – that it is felt to be the norm unless told otherwise. So the foreseeable future, it’s still far more important for kids to have affirming spaces than to have the ever-present negativity invading them.