It was supposed to be the issue that brought MPPs together, like bringing students together in the classroom.
Instead, anti-bullying legislation has become the biggest single flashpoint at Queen’s Park. A bitter debate over gay-straight alliances in schools has driven MPPs apart, opened a wedge in the Tory caucus (possibly encouraging a defection), and sparked a parade of bigotry in public hearings.
Now, the opposition Tories have taken a bizarre stand against gay-straight alliances — voting against a Liberal government bill requiring school boards to back student requests for GSA support groups.
The wrangling over bullying started soon after the last election, when the Liberals and Tories brought in competing bills after a rash of suicides (notably by gay students). Ever since, MPPs have been berating one another in the anti-bullying debate — taunting, tweeting, sulking and shouting (or heckling, as parliamentarians call it).
The Liberals and Tories both had good ideas in their bills. But when it came time to blend their legislation, both sides got their backs up.
Soon, mere partisanship degenerated into faith-based folly. And fringe fundamentalism, like fringe politics, brings out the worst in both politicians and preachers.
This week, a Queen’s Park committee room became a gathering place for self-styled religious leaders who have railed against GSAs as nests of iniquity. I guess they don’t watch Glee on TV.
They can’t fathom the notion of fellowship clubs where straight kids can commiserate with gay kids about bullying. Instead, they fantasize about homosexual seduction scenes and wild orgies conducted under a teacher’s supervision on school property…Instead of making schools safe for GSAs, Tory antics have made the legislature a safe place for a culture war against anything gay… So let’s allow the Tories to speak for themselves on the issue.
PC education critic Lisa MacLeod says she’s not opposed to gay-straight alliances. She just opposes the idea of requiring schools to set them up when students make the request.