A new guide to support teachers in Canada with LGBTQ discussions is being attacked for suggesting staging drag shows in school and addressing students as “comrade” instead of boys and girls.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA), Alberta’s teachers’ union, has released a 150-page document called “Prism Toolkit for Safe and Caring Discussions.” It aims to assist teachers in creating LGBTQ-inclusive classrooms and curricula, according to CBC news.
The toolkit recommends an activity titled “Drag 101” for cosmetology and drama students, in which local drag queens would be invited to schools to teach makeup techniques and organize drag performances for the school.
In another activity titled “Gender Swap”, students would be asked to “select a piece of writing that is typically strongly associated with a particular gender, but one that is not the gender they identify with” and “perform their selected piece”.
The document also advises teachers to use gender-neutral language. Rather than relying on the traditional terms such “boys” and “girls”, the toolkit suggests using other terms like friends, folks, or “comrades”.
“Mom” and “dad” are also counted as traditional terms in the guide, which recommends using “caretaker,” “guardian” and “responsible adults” instead.
The teachers are mandated by the guide to use their students’ preferred gender pronouns.
A purple “gender unicorn” is also used in the guide to describe “a more authentic way of understanding gender.” The cartoon unicorn, with a DNA fig leaf over its genitals, is shown under the heading “Where do you fall on these spectrums?” It shows that there is a range of options for gender and sexual identities, including sex assigned at birth, physical and emotional attraction.
The ATA recommendations don’t stop at pronouns and drag shows – it also insists on challenging so-called hate speech, joining LGBTQ groups and checking your privilege.
In a section on how to be a good “ally” of sexual and gender minorities (SGM), the guide suggests challenging “hate speak and anti-SGM language. Let your friends, family and co-workers know that you find them offensive and that it is unacceptable.”
“Support and involve yourself in SGM organizations and causes. Donate money or volunteer time to LGBT organizations, such as your local Pride Center. Write letters to your political representatives asking them to support legislation that positively affects SGM people”, the guidebook added.
In the next section, the document implies the need for teachers to understand “straight privilege” and how it impairs their teaching quality.
The document was criticized by Theresa Ng, a mother, former teacher and parent rights activist, claiming “There is this implicit presumption that everyone already agrees on this very specific singular perspective of gender and sexuality.”
“There’s no honoring or valuing of alternative perspectives on this issue”, she added.
According to Ng, who wrote a blog post on the topic, if the document comes into effect, most students will have “no choice to decline these lessons” as they happen during a mandated instructional time and “are powerless to object to their learning time being used toward political activism for the advancement of LGBTQ rights or watching a school-wide drag performance.”