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Mutual respect

Dear editor:

I was deeply concerned about the tone of the Borderland Pride article endorsing certain school board candidates last week and am writing to counsel a note of caution.

Urging support for one's preferred candidate is to be expected, but they went so far as to “strongly discourage” voting for anyone they did not support in terms I found to be intimidating.

And for what reason? Simply because those candidates had not participated in a survey the Pride group had issued. By this they infer “an animus to LGBTQ2-inclusive curriculum that is at odds with our human rights and the equality guarantees of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

In other words, they therefore must support exclusion and bullying those who are different from them.

Let's step back a moment. Why would you immediately jump to such a conclusion? Might they not also wish that students be “instilled with a sense of dignity, confidence, self-worth, and respect for the differences in our society” and simply advocate another approach for achieving this?

Might they possibly have considered your questionnaire biased, with leading questions slanted to your agenda and without open-ended invitations to explain their position? Might you have given them the benefit of the doubt, or even contacted them in person for a friendly conversation on the topic?

We all should remember what it's like to be on the other side and seize the opportunity to set an example of how to handle disagreement with grace instead of animosity. We are not enemies. We are neighbours.

None of the candidates thus publicly disparaged would condone bullying those of opposing beliefs in any form. Pride's article, however, accused them of precisely that, with no corroborating evidence whatsoever; merely the inference from silence.

It also fails to mention the fact that Premier Ford only reinstated the old curriculum temporarily until input from all parents who wished to contribute could be gathered, and a new curriculum developed according to the majority consensus rather than that of a tiny pre-selected minority who happened to parrot the previous party's policy.

Most agree it needs updating, but object to having their children indoctrinated according to one specific value system while overturning the parents' right to exempt their child or even be informed of content.

Equality, diversity, and freedom of conscience mean that every person has the right to hold the beliefs of their own choice and to live—and also to vote and raise their children—according to their personal convictions (with the obvious proviso of doing no harm), and be treated with equal respect and tolerance in society and under the law.

It does not mean that everyone is required to personally adopt and propagate every belief system in equal measure, including contradictory ones.

How about opponents in authority subjecting your children to instruction you disagree with? I think the current uproar over just this situation speaks for itself on that regard. Would you then turn around, once in power, and deny those of dissenting views the same rights you demand for yourselves?

I think all of us need to consider. To do so is neither respectful, nor tolerant, nor inclusive, nor diverse, nor equal, nor in any way compatible with freedom. I hope you feel the same.

Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Live and let live. Treat others the same way you want to be treated. However you phrase it, this is what Canadians are known for.

Let's live up to it.

Sincerely,

Sherri King

Barwick, Ont.

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