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Students should act less gay, says Alberta school trustee (seriously?)

Bullying is perhaps the single largest problem facing kids today: You don't have to look very far, or search the Internet very hard, to find proof of recent tragedies.

There are proposed legislations, grassroots YouTube campaigns, endorsements from celebrities, even a Facebook tool to try to solve this problem that's claiming too many innocent lives.

That's why it's so very appalling that the Alberta School Boards Association has rejected a proposal that would protect gay students and staff from discrimination - the same proposal that was passed by Edmonton Public Schools last year.

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In fact, 62 per cent of the board turned down the proposal, and one trustee from Pembina, Alta., said some shockingly ignorant things to the CBC.

Dale Schaffrick suggested if "children with a gay tendency" could hide their gayness it would be "for their own benefit."

Unsurprisingly, the reaction on Twitter has been less than kind to Shaffrick and the hashtag #actlessgay has taken off.

"Dear Dale Schaffrick, can you please 'act less bigoted'? Or better yet, just resign," tweeted one. "Dale Schaffrick shame on you," said another. Jeff Johnson, Education Minister in Alberta, tweeted, "As a parent I would never ask my child to hide who they are."

In a letter to the ASBA, Edmonton-based gay activist Murray Billet took Shaffrick and his colleagues to task, asking them to move in to 2012.

"I can tell you that comment is homophobic," Billett said in an interview with CTV News. "To suggest that one minority group should act, dress or behave in a different way so they don't get bullied."

Schaffrick has apologized, telling CTV that his comments "were inappropriate and they were offensive, and I apologize for that."

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But we still wonder if the motion will be reconsidered.

And, even more, why would anyone think - let alone publicly say – such insensitive sentiments in the face of such a national crisis?

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About the Author
Editor in the Opinion section

Amberly McAteer is an editor in the Opinion section at The Globe and Mail. She has been a homepage editor, online editor and community editor in Features - including Life, Travel, Style, Arts and Books. She's written columns about her quest to run a 10K and find the perfect dog. More

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