I was surprised to hear Evan Wiens on CBC this morning talking about the gay-straight alliance he’s started at Steinbach Regional Secondary School.
Surprised, because when I called Wiens to ask how the first meeting went last month, he declined to be interviwed, told me he was withdrawing from the public spotlight to concentrate on school, and asked the media to respect his privacy.
Wiens had courted and received a lot of media attention the previous few weeks, as he tried to persuade Hanover School Division to allow him to promote the GSA within the school.
So I contacted Wiens to find out what had happened, and pointed out to him that those of us who’d complied with his request to respect his privacy, would have difficulty explaining to our bosses and our readers why CBC had a story that we didn’t.
And here was his reply: "CBC has been kind to me as I’ve been working closely with them on a diary project. So I allowed them a small update on the GSA. I don’t believe that’s any of your business. I believe I’m allowed to use my freedom of speech in whichever way I choose."
Yes, Wiens can speak to whomever he chooses.
But, with respect, it is my business. When someone who has chosen to become a public figure asks to be left alone, and then re-emerges in a rival medium, it is my business to ask what’s happening.
This is a big story that won’t go away. The right to establish a GSA within a public school and within private schools that receive public funding is at the heart of Bill 18. Steinbach is quite obviously at the heart of opposition to the bill.
Wiens has been a part of that story. Going forward, he’ll be a part of that story on CBC, but his voice won’t be heard anywhere else — not in our paper, not in the Sun, not on CJOB or on Global or CTV or City, or anywhere else. People may talk about him along the way, people may talk about his GSA, but his voice won’t be heard. That’s his choice.