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The Globe and Mail

The week in gay rights: Thumbs up to Glee, thumbs way down to Burnaby protests

GLEE: Quinn (Dianna Agron, L) and Santana (Naya Rivera, R) console Kurt (Chris Colfer, C)

Adam Rose/FOX

The fight for gay rights saw both highs and low this week. While Glee deftly handled the crowning of two gay characters as prom king and queen, with all the good and bad consequences that resulted, there was more controversy in Canada about how to handle homophobia in our schools (and on Twitter).

Both protesters and supporters clustered this week outside the Burnaby Board of Education with opposing opinions about a new anti-homophobia policy meant to improve conditions for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students at the school.

University of Winnipeg research has shown that homophobic slurs and bullying remains rampant in Canadian schools. A survey of 3,700 high schools students conducted between 2007 and 2009 found that 55 per cent of LGBT students had been verbally harassed at school, and 21 per cent were physically assaulted or harassed. Two-thirds of the students felt unsafe at school, especially in student washrooms and gym change rooms - a high-traffic area for bullying of any kind.

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The new policy in Burnaby defined heterosexism as "the mistaken assumption that all people are heterosexual and that heterosexuality is superior and the norm by which all other sexual orientations and gender identities are measured."

Protesting parents, who appeared before a board meeting late last month, have argued that the policy "infringes on their rights," and beliefs, according to Xtra. One parent, Rifdhy Nizan, told the newspaper, that being gay is "not the right thing," and the policy encouraged it among students. "I believe in one God, so we don't believe that. So that's why I am here today."

Another parent, Jeanne Keegan-Henry, who supports the policy, countered: "If you changed everything in the original policy to say Chinese or black of Hispanic or any racial thing, it would be appalling to oppose it."

As Board chair Larry Hayes told the media, "we're not trying to indoctrinate children or sexualize elementary school," arguing the role of teachers is to try to make sure everyone is treated with respect.

Clearly TV station Rogers Sportsnet took a similar position today, by firing on-air host Damian Goddard after he tweeted his opposition to same sex-marriage. Twitter has been the arena for a back and forth in the hockey world (not exactly an island of gay tolerance) since New York Rangers forward Sean Avery vocally supported same sex marriage. Mr. Goddard chose to tweet his support of the "traditional and TRUE meaning of marriage."

Makes you think the world needs a little more Kurt (for a tear-jerking Golden Globe flashback, click here) and Blaine from Glee singing Baby, It's Cold Outside.

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Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

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