Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Elsewhere in Canda: GSAs, Abstinence-Only Sex Ed, Parental Consent for Abortion

Gazillions of electrons will be spilled today poring over the entrails of the election in Quebec. Since I know little and understand less of QC politics, I'm turning my attention to some neglected stories from Alberta and Saskatchewan.

First up: Valiant but doomed effort to mandate Gay Straight Alliances in Alberta.
A motion from a Liberal MLA to mandate that schools support the establishment of student-led gay-straight alliances to help curb bullying and discrimination was defeated in the legislature Monday.

Calgary-Buffalo MLA Kent Hehr said in the debate that clubs that bring together gay and straight students help create a tolerant environment and have been demonstrated to reduce bullying of all types.
. . .
The Liberals and NDP supported the motion with the support of some PC MLAs. However, a majority of Tories and the Wildrose Party opposed it, with the final tally 31 to 19.
Sure, Conservatives will invoke "bullying" as their excuse when they really want to invade our online privacy, but actually doing something about it? Not if it offends the gord-fearing haters in their base.

Next up, also from Alberta, it seems those gord-fearing haters have invaded the sex ed programs of PUBLIC schools.

Back in 2012, a CTV investigation in BC got sex ed programs run by Christian "Crisis Pregnancy Centres" aka fake clinics booted from public schools.

Now they're spreading the hate and lies in Edmonton public schools.
While abstinence may be the only foolproof way to prevent pregnancy, local parents are worried it is the only form of birth control taught at certain Edmonton schools.

According to Edmonton parent and local activist Franki Harrogate the Pregnancy Care Centre — a local organization that offers counseling and guidance for unplanned pregnancy — has been teaching an abstinence-only model at some schools.

“They don’t provide comprehensive sexual education and it’s performed from a very sex negative (perspective),” Harrogate said.
A grassroots group in Edmonton trying to stop them. Here's the petition by Kathy Dawson.
In violation of the curriculum requirements (the CALM Guide to Implementation and the Education Act), students at an Edmonton public high school were recently taught gender stereotypes, inaccurate, incomplete, and biased information about sexuality in a Career and Life Management (CALM) class.

Sexually active students were shamed, non-traditional families were disparaged and LGBTQ questions were not answered. Parents were not informed of the presenter's identity or the specific content.

In response to letters, the Ministry of Education appears unwilling to intervene and the Edmonton Public School Board is not acting to change its policies around parental notification or to ensure that only quality comprehensive sex education is taught in public schools as per curriculum requirements.

Edmonton Pregnancy Care Centre is a Christ-centred anti-choice ministry that is not a medical facility. They present the “Wait! Let’s Talk Sex!” (Abstinence only program) to 60 Edmonton Public Schools (that includes students in grades 7, 8, 9 and CALM 20). Edmonton Public Schools is fully aware of the content of these presentations and continues to allow teachers to select this “ministry” to indoctrinate vulnerable youth. Edmonton Public Schools is refusing to mandate that parents be informed about presenters and content as part of the parental consent procedure for sexual health education. Only 18 schools bring in comprehensive sex education presenters.

The presenter I saw in 2013 appeared to focus on abstinent, heterosexual teens while misrepresenting and omitting sexuality information. The following is a partial list of fundamentalist anti-choice, anti-feminist, anti-male, anti-birth control, anti-gay, medically inaccurate and biased doctrine I heard:

-refused to answer questions relating to LGBTQ
-scientifically inaccurate information about fetal development, abortion and emergency contraception
-misused research on oxytocin bonding
-misled youth about contact with babies surrendered for open adoption
-misled youth about birth control and condom effectiveness
-presented a divorce rate at 70%
-provided inflammatory and misleading information about Planned Parenthood
-misrepresented the effectiveness of over the counter pregnancy tests
-presented gender stereotypes that were sexist to all genders
-misrepresented boys as HPV (human papillomavirus) carriers-stated 60% have it under their finger nails
In addition to this bosh, the Christian sex expert is clairvoyant.

More from the petition:
This presenter claimed that she could look students in the eye and know if they were having sex.

Abstinence only sex ed is not only medical and scientific bullshit, by all credible assessment measures, it simply does not work.

And now to Saskatchewan, where as we reported recently, fetus fetishists are gamely trying to introduce "parental consent" regulations for abortion to Canada for the first time.

So, how's their letter-writing campaign going? Not too well (scroll down to March 10).

Saskatchewan MLAs say they are getting few e-mails.

We see that petitions are getting downloaded and many petitions are getting signed. They should be hitting the floor of the Legislative Assembly soon.

HOWEVER, MLAs are saying they are getting very few e-mails.  We need to STEP it up.  We need to BOMBARD our MLAs with everything we have to get this very basic and "friendly" law passed in Saskatchewan.

Use the Easy-Mail program - it is quick, easy and takes less than a minute, unless you choose to personalize the content of the letter.  PLEASE, DO IT NOW!!!
Hee. They thought this was going to be quick and easy. After all, who could argue with this "very basic and friendly law"?

Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, for one, wrote her own letter to Saskatchewan MLAs.
Dear Saskatchewan Members of the Legislative Assembly,

Two anti-abortion groups have recently launched a campaign to enact a law in Saskatchewan requiring parental consent before a minor can have an abortion (http://sk.parentalconsent.ca/).

The attached new Position Paper (also available here http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/postionpapers/58-Parental-Consent.pdf) demonstrates with comprehensive evidence that if a parental consent law for abortion was passed by any Canadian province or territory, it would contravene and reverse current medical policies and ethics around the consent of minors to healthcare, violate their constitutional rights to bodily security and privacy, and increase risks to their health and safety.

In Saskatchewan, a parental consent law for abortion would be particularly harmful and counter-productive, as it would disproportionately impact the high numbers of marginalized youth in your province, as the following facts attest:
• Child poverty rates in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are the highest in Canada, according to Saskatoon Health. Saskatchewan also has a significant Aboriginal population (11.3%) that has historically experienced enormous economic and social hardships, much of which continues to this day. 
• Saskatchewan has the second highest rate of teenage births in Canada (29 per 1,000 women aged 14-19), second only to Nunavut. A parental consent law for abortion would increase these rates even more, thereby continuing the cycle of poverty and dysfunction that so many are trapped in.
• The Saskatchewan Child Welfare Review Panel Report: For the good of our children and youth (http://saskchildwelfarereview.ca/CWR-panel-report.pdf) documents that “Saskatchewan has high rates of alcohol dependency and abuse, the second largest concentration of youth gang members on a per capita basis, and high rates of child poverty, youth crime, incarceration, disability, family violence, and mental health problems.” In addition: “Caseloads of children in care keep growing, and the outcomes for children and families are not acceptable. … The majority of clients of the child welfare system are Aboriginal – First nations and Métis. The percentage has been growing over recent decades and seems likely to continue on that path.”

Given the environment of poverty and inequity that too many Saskatchewan youth live in, and the evidence submitted in the attached paper, we ask you to please reject any possibility of a parental consent law for abortion. Instead, we urge the Saskatchewan government to follow the recommendations of the above-noted report from the Saskatchewan Child Welfare Review Panel, which urged all levels of government to address the poverty-related conditions that drive child neglect and other social problems. These include making “significant improvements to the income support, affordable housing, and disability service systems used by Saskatchewan families.” We believe this would be the best way forward to protect Saskatchewan youth and improve their futures.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Joyce Arthur
In addition to the letter, ARCC produced a position paper (pdf) on parental consent laws and what a nightmare of privacy and human rights violations they would entail.

In Canada, as ever, the sexual two-step continues. One step forward, two steps back.

Upcoming blogposts on the forward (New Brunswick) and back (*sigh* Woodworth Rides Again).

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