TORONTO, May 29, 2012 /CNW/ - The Ontario English Catholic Teachers'
Association (OECTA) supports the amendment to Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act, which would allow students to name a club a Gay Straight Alliances
(GSA), if they choose.
"For our Association, the bottom line is to always meet the needs of our
students," says Kevin O'Dwyer, OECTA president. "Providing safe,
inclusive environments and eliminating bullying wherever we can is
paramount. If the students feel that a club should be called a GSA -
that it makes a difference to them - then, we respect and accept that
GSAs are student clubs that provide an opportunity for students,
regardless of their sexual orientation, to work together on fostering
schools that are respectful and safe places for all students. The
primary goal of GSA clubs is to undertake discussion and engage in
activities that will make schools more welcoming places for Lesbian,
Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered (LGBT) students and prevent bullying.
"Many adults have commented on what should be done in schools to help
prevent discrimination and victimization of marginalized students,"
says O'Dwyer. "The reality is, this isn't about the adults - it is
about the students and student relationships - and we need to empower
the students who are a key part of this equation."
Research has shown that:
students who identify as LGBT are at higher risk of experiencing
bullying and are three times more likely to commit suicide than
not using the word 'gay' leads to further marginalization of students
for whom the word speaks to the core of their identity;
in schools where GSAs exist, students have more favorable outcomes
related to their school experience and the level of psychological
distress they encounter and lower rates of suicide.
"As Catholic educators, we believe that EVERY student is worthy of
respect, dignity and love, and we affirm the sanctity of all human
life," says O'Dwyer. "We cannot expect to address a problem if we
cannot openly discuss that problem, regardless of how difficult that
conversation may be."
OECTA represents the 43,000 professional women and men who teach all
grades in publicly funded English Catholic schools in Ontario.
SOURCE Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association
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