Friday, June 09, 2006

A Canadian Government Agrees to Mandatory Homosexual Curriculum with No Opt-Out for Students or Parents

A homosexual teacher and his same-sex partner who launched a human rights complaint with the British Columbia government have settled with the Government of British Columbia. According to the homosexual activist who launched a human rights suit, homosexual issues will soon be a mandatory part of school curricula taught in classrooms throughout the province, without the ability of students or parents to opt out.

BC's Ministry of Education and Ministry of the Attorney-General agreed to review the province's curricula to ensure that the issue of homosexuality is included in all so-called 'social justice' discussions - such as those involving racial inequality and women's rights. The decision was the result of a settlement reached with Murray and Peter Corren, who launched their formal human rights complaint in 1999, which alleged "systemic sexual discrimination" in the classroom.

However, a key element in the Corren complaint was the attempt to ensure that the courses teaching positively about homosexuality are mandatory, and that neither students nor parents are able to opt-out. Speaking at the time of the launch of the human rights action, last July, the activists' legal council, Tim Timberg, said, "The second issue is there's an opting-out provision in the curriculum that where a subject is deemed to be sensitive, the school teachers are under an obligation to in advance advise parents that they'll be raising a sensitive issue in the classroom."

Coquitlam teacher Murray Corren told the Vancouver Sun today that the settlement will also make it more difficult for students and parents to opt out of lessons dealing with sexual orientation.

Attorney-General Wally Oppal said Wednesday that the province was indeed shaping a new 'social justice' course that will incorporate the homosexual issues. "I think it's a fair settlement," he claimed. "We listened to their [the Correns'] complaints and we decided there was some merit in what they were suggesting." Oppal added that he hoped British Columbians were a "mature enough society" to accept "that there is an understanding that there is a place for this in our curriculum."

A press release from the BC Government notes that in addition to revamping the provinces educational curriculum to ensure it "reflects inclusion" for the homosexual lifestyle, the province is commencing immediately to offer an elective grade 12 course on "justice and equality" which will address "sexual orientation.

Corinna Filion, spokesman for the Ministry of Education told that the agreement included provisions to bar some parents and students who had been opting for home education or other arrangements on topics of sexuality. While the province will still allow parents and students those alternative options when it comes to sex education (health and career courses), students will be forced to remain in classes dealing with sexual orientation outside of sexual education in spite of any objections students or their parents my have. "For example in social studies if they are reading a book about same sex families . . . the policy (of allowing for alternative arrangements) would not apply," explained Filion.


Feminists trying to deny reality

Like so many women, Suzanne Holstein, a schoolteacher and mother of two, has had her struggles balancing motherhood and career. So she was sympathetic when she heard that ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas, a woman she admires, was stepping down from her prestigious evening-news perch to focus on her growing family.

And yet, like many women across the country, Holstein is not only a little disappointed by Vargas' move, but a little suspicious. "I can't believe that a woman who's worked so hard to get where she is would just resign like that," says Holstein, 39. "I think they pushed her out." Empathy, respect, disappointment, suspicion: women seem to be expressing all those emotions when they discuss Vargas, co-anchor of "World News Tonight" until this week, when she was replaced by Charles Gibson. If she was pushed aside - and she denies it - it's troubling, they say. If she wasn't, it's even more troubling to some, who see it as a reminder of just how difficult it is to "have it all" - even when you have as much going for you as she does.

Vargas, 43, is hardly a household name like Katie Couric, whose ascension to the sole anchor chair at CBS was hailed by many as a breakthrough for women when it was announced in April. Yet when Vargas was named ABC co-anchor along with Bob Woodruff last December, she immediately became one of the most visible women in America.

Only weeks later, Woodruff was gravely wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq, forcing Vargas to go solo. The following month, she announced her pregnancy, which she says was unexpected. With ratings falling, she was permanently replaced on the evening news this week by the 63-year-old Gibson. (She'll return from maternity leave to co-anchor "20/20.") Vargas said she'd felt no pressure from above to step down, but did so for the good of her family. "Every woman has the right to make that decision for herself and her family without anybody judging it," she told The Associated Press at the time.

Feminist groups say Vargas is just being publicly graceful about what was really her abrupt removal from the job. "We see it as a demotion," says Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation and one of the country's most recognizable feminists. "We're worried. Is this a return to the days when it was tougher for women to get ahead?" Smeal was one of three feminist leaders to sign a letter this week to the heads of ABC, asking them to reinstate Vargas. "This clear demotion signals a dispiriting return to the days of discrimination against women that we thought were behind us," said the letter. It asked the network to find a work schedule that would allow Vargas to be both a dedicated mother and a dedicated journalist - and even brought a little show business into the equation, decrying ABC's cancellation of "Commander in Chief," starring Geena Davis as the first woman president.

"You have now managed to eliminate two of the country's most visible women role models," said the letter, also signed by Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, and Susan Scanlan, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations.

Certainly, there are those who believe that Vargas' move was a personal choice and nothing more. "I would take her at her word," says Christina Hoff Sommers, a resident scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, whose writings are often critical of feminist groups. "By now there are so many prominent women out there. Women have never been doing better." But whether Vargas was forced out may not be the real issue, says Geneva Overholser, a former ombudsman for The Washington Post. Whether it was her choice or not, she certainly speaks the truth - it's HARD to make it work," says Overholser of the mommy-work conundrum. Two decades ago, when faced with the possibility of a big new job, Overholser passed it up, she says - like Vargas, she had one child and was pregnant with another. "I felt I couldn't do it," she said. Later, she became editor of The Des Moines Register, and as it turns out, "I know I was a much better editor because I was a mother."

The message to take from the Vargas story, says Overholser, now at the Washington bureau of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, is that while some women manage to combine work and parenthood well, "we mustn't ever think it's easy. And yet, we must never think it's impossible."

Holstein, the Maryland schoolteacher, knows very well that it's not easy. About a year ago, her husband, an engineering consultant, was working in Iraq and her older daughter was having a rough adjustment to high school. Her daughter needed her; the balance wasn't working. And so she took a year's leave of absence to be with her child. She returned to her job a few months ago. What she's learned, she says, is that you simply can't have it all. "You can't have the perfect marriage, home, children and career, AND be happy," she says. "Something's gotta give."


Are Americans Suffering Diversity Fatigue?

Rather surprisingly, the article below is from "Time" magazine

Has it become okay to exclude again? Perhaps one of the most treasured of American rights is the freedom of association. This is the right to hang out with whomever we want, wherever we want. It's a complicated right, because when we hang out with "people like us," inevitably someone gets kept out. Where and how to draw the line is a question we all seem to be struggling with right now.

Black Jack, Mo., made national headlines late last month when it drew its firm line. An unmarried couple with three children tried to move into the house they had just bought. The house is zoned for single family residences-and the city decided this family does not fit their legal definition of family. The couple pleaded with the city council to change the law. The city said no, and intends to evict. When this news broke, many assumed Black Jack must be one of those white, religious conservative towns in the Bible Belt. But Black Jack turned out to be a suburb of St. Louis, and it's 70% African American. Their enforcement of the zoning doesn't seem to be motivated by race or religion-just a genuine desire to preserve the pro-family environment.

My friends in liberal Manhattan were appalled. "It could never happen here," they insisted. But it is happening there-at the corner of 70th and Broadway. The Sherman Square condominium tower rejected the application of an unmarried couple. (No, the couple is not gay.) The co-op says it isn't a moral judgment. It feels it shouldn't be forced into a legal contract with two people who are not even willing to be legally bound to each other. Isn't that reasonable?

Down in central Florida, developers have broken ground on a new township called Ave Maria, which they hope will be populated with conservative Catholics. The town will surround a colossal church, shaped like a pontiff's hat, with a 65-foot crucifix at the front door. They're also moving a university from Michigan to Florida, so the students and faculty can seed the town. If you're a parent who does not want your child to attend the Catholic elementary school, you will have to put your child on a school bus to be educated elsewhere in the county-Ave Maria plans no public schools. The planners know darn well they can't exclude non-Catholics from buying one of the 11,000 planned homes. But they won't need to.

These anecdotes make us liberals uncomfortable, but isn't congregating with like-minded people a natural impulse? Lawyers like to drink at lawyer bars, and moms have their mommy groups. Cubs fans don't go to White Sox games, and while Girl Scout troops don't exclude lesbians, they do exclude boys. Nor should we assume this urge to withdraw is only a conservative tactic. In the state of Nebraska, the only black member of the state legislature is Ernie Chambers. Ernie is so liberal that a colleague in the legislature said, "Ernie sees racism when he pours his breakfast cereal." But Ernie Chambers recently pushed through a new bill that carves Omaha's school district into three-a black district, a white district, and a Hispanic district. He thinks this will protect black schools from being cheated of their fair share of bond proceeds. He also says black families should decide what black children are being taught. They think they'll be better off taking care their own.

Meanwhile, out in Northern California there's a city called Hercules which decided it hates Wal-Mart. Hercules wants to build a cozy tree-lined street of small shops where an old dynamite plant used to be. They don't mind chains, like Starbucks and The Gap. They just don't want a Wal-Mart, which they believe will crush the small stores like sugar ants. Hercules has found no legal means of forbidding Wal-Mart from building on the vacant lot it owns, so this week the city voted to use eminent domain and take the $15 million lot from Wal-Mart. So far that appears legal. Across the Bay in San Francisco, people cheered.

Even in socialist France, they now want immigrants to swear to their love of French culture. We can't do that here, because we protect free speech, so we're just making English our "official," language, and leaving the rest implied.

People are willing to be tolerant, but past a certain point it feels like being ordered to eat the peas. So at West Side High School in Gary, Ind., school officials let a transgendered teen named Kevin Logan come to school in drag every day. He's a popular boy who performs with the girls on drill team. But last weekend, when Kevin showed up at the prom in a slinky fuschia dress, he was barred from entry by the principal. They already had a rule that boys can't wear dresses to the prom. Kevin's classmates were angry. But much of the country is siding with the principal. I disagree here. If a boy has already spent $200 on a manicure and pedicure, he should be allowed to showcase his glamorous toes.

It's clear people are tired of walking on eggshells, afraid to offend those with different beliefs, ideas, and lifestyles. It's grown exhausting, and they want their lives back. The idea of diversity seems to have worn out its welcome. It is now like a house guest who has stayed too long. e don't want to lose what makes us "us." We're freezing up, right as our melting pot gets to the melting point, and our disparate identities are about to blur away. Can we as a society turn the heat back on without passions becoming so inflamed?

Australia: Black child molesters' sentences increased -- slightly

Two Aborigines who sexually abused a seven-month-old baby and a two-year-old girl have had their sentences almost doubled. Northern Territory Chief Justice Brian Martin described the original jail terms imposed on the men as "so manifestly inadequate as to shock the public conscience". He had wanted to impose even harsher sentences on the two, whose crimes prompted a national debate on violence in Aboriginal communities, but had been prevented from doing so by the principle of double jeopardy. Both cases were raised last month by Alice Springs prosecutor Nanette Rogers as she detailed the high rate of violence and sexual assault in remote indigenous communities. She declined to comment yesterday.

Gerhardt Max Inkamala, 21, pleaded guilty to digitally penetrating a seven-month-old girl's vagina, causing injuries that required surgery, at Hermannsburg, north of Alice Springs, in late 2003. He was sentenced to five years in prison, with a non-parole period of four years. But following a prosecution appeal, three judges in the Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday increased that sentence to nine years in jail, with a non-parole period of seven years.

In the second case, Morgan Jabanardi Riley, 27, was originally sentenced to six years in jail and a non-parole period of four years and six months for sexually assaulting a two-year-old girl at Tennant Creek. Riley took the child into the bush and digitally penetrated her vagina and anus as she screamed in pain. The court increased that sentence yesterday to eight years' imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 6 1/2 years.

Justice Martin - who last year sentenced an Aboriginal elder to a month behind bars for having sex with a 14-year-old girl promised to him as a wife - said the circumstances of the offenders were "depressingly familiar". "While those circumstances excite considerable sympathy, they can receive only very limited weight by way of mitigation when viewed against the gravity of the respondents' criminal conduct," he said.

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