Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Boost same-sex curricula: union

MTS seeks big changes to education in province

  • Print

So you thought Bill 18 has stirred up an education hornet's nest?

The union leadership representing Manitoba's 15,000 public school teachers wants all provincial education curricula to reflect sexual orientation and gender-identity issues.

A resolution to go before the annual general meeting of the Manitoba Teachers' Society May 23 to 25 would call on the Department of Education to "ensure that same-sex families and LBGTTQ (lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, two-spirited, queer) people and themes are reflected in all curricula."

All Manitoba schools, regardless of whether they are public or private, must follow provincial curricula.

"Kids get a distorted social mirror," MTS president Paul Olson said Wednesday. "The world is not a Leave it to Beaver, heterosexual place."

The curricula don't reflect reality, said Olson. "There's this kind of ringing silence -- it's a deafening silence."

The resolution comes from the provincial executive, Olson said.

Teachers have given their union a clear message that what they teach must reflect gender and sexual identity. "It's not that every lesson has to include it; we're not saying anything that absurd," Olson said.

MTS is aware the idea will not go over well everywhere, Olson added.

"I'm sure it will generate some debate. That kind of heat tends to generate some light.

"There should be tension -- that's how we hold ideas up to scrutiny," said Olson.

Education Minister Nancy Allan said Wednesday, "They have not discussed that with me," adding, "I'm glad they're having that discussion."

Allan would not speculate on what the union might do, or what the government would do if teachers pass the resolution, but noted "it would take years" to implement such sweeping changes.

Deputy education minister Gerald Farthing said sexual-orientation issues are covered in the health curriculum under family life, and in human-rights units in the social studies curriculum.

But what teachers are proposing is a sweeping change that would include amending and expanding the curriculum in every subject taught in schools.

"It's systemic. It would be leading if it were to go ahead," said Chad Smith, executive director of the Rainbow Resource Centre, which serves the gay and lesbian community. "It's great. This is a bigger picture" than the incremental small steps the centre has been making with individuals at the school level, Smith said.

"We've had concerns raised to us by parents who are same-sex couples, that they aren't being represented" in what their kids learn in school, Smith said.

Allan said she could not recall such a broad proposal.

Several divisions have extensive anti-homophobia policies, such as the Winnipeg and Louis Riel school divisions.

Officials with the Manitoba Federation of Independent Schools could not be reached Wednesday.

One provision of Bill 18 involving sexual orientation has set off protests in some parts of the province.

The anti-bullying bill includes a provision that any school receiving public money must accommodate a student who asks to establish a gay-straight alliance in the school.

A Feb. 24 prayer meeting at Steinbach Christian High School drew 1,200 people opposing the bill. Steinbach and RM of Hanover councils have called on Allan to review her proposed bill.

Numerous groups say Bill 18 violates religious freedom.

Last week, the Garden Valley school board in Winkler objected to the bill's human-diversity clause: "This is a section 15 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms violation to equal treatment. To protect or grant special privileges to a few types of groups of students at the exclusion of other students cannot be justified. This is the inherent problem with listing groups that deserve protection: Some are always left out. Fundamentally, every student should receive equal protection and equal opportunity," Garden Valley School Division trustees said.

Allan said her government is determined to pass Bill 18 before breaking for the summer so it will be in effect when classes start in September.

The Tories have been holding up other legislature business over their opposition to the NDP's one percentage point increase to the provincial sales tax.

The government still needs to table Bill 18 for second reading, hold committee hearings, then pass third reading and obtain royal assent from the lieutenant-governor before breaking for the summer.

"We want to do that for sure, absolutely," Allan said.

An aide to Allan said 99 speakers have registered to appear at the Bill 18 committee hearings, many in support. Allan pointed out the MTS not only supports the bill, it wants it strengthened.

Allan said when she was minister of labour, she held 28 hours of committee hearings on one act to ensure all speakers were heard.

By holding evening sessions and conducting several committee hearings on different pieces of legislation at the same time, the department should have time to get Bill 18 passed, Allan said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 2, 2013 A3


Updated on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 6:58 AM CDT: replaces photo

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


MTS Centre a Winnipeg whiteout as NHL playoffs return after 19 years

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A water lily in full bloom is reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)

View More Gallery Photos


Do you think the Jets will win Game 4 on Wednesday?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google