TORONTO - This Toronto dad is just not ready to explain to his first-grade son about transgender people, prostitutes, AIDS or female genital mutilation.
So one can imagine his shock when he found these issues listed as special days of recognition in his son’s Toronto District School Board 2011-12 daily planner.
“I was looking through this thing and was shocked by the kind of days they are marking as ‘days of significance,’” he said.
The first one that jumped out at him, under a headline that said “equitable and inclusive,” was Nov. 19’s Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Then came Dec. 1’s World AIDS Day, followed by Dec. 17’s International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. There was also Feb. 7’s International Day of Zero-Tolerance on Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation and Feb. 12’s International Sexual and Reproductive Health Day.
“It’s just bizarre,” said the outraged dad. “He’s six. I want him to enjoy being six.”
What are those things doing in a young child’s school planner? This boy’s parents may have to tackle these issues far earlier than they planned.
Hoping his son didn’t notice, the dad said he pulled the pages from the book. “The school only goes to the fifth grade so they are not going to be able to say it was in there for the older kids either,” said the dad. “I just don’t get it because the kids in first grade can read.”
The school board is conducting an investigation into the concerns. Spokesman Shari Schwartz-Maltz said claims about the planner are “not consistent” with what is in most readers throughout the board. She said the board is contacting the school’s recently retired principal to determine what happened.
“They are not uniform,” Schwartz-Maltz said of the books, adding each school has input.
Could it be narrowed down to having been accidentally placed in the planners of one grade school?
This dad said he has talked to at least one other parent who has a planner with the same information.
The Days of Significance calendar is also available on the board’s website, tdsb.on.ca.
Perhaps another point to be made is why is there so much politically correct recognition of so many obscure celebrations that have nothing directly to do with what should be going on in the classroom?
Of course, there has been bending of the rules in TDSB schools before. Last June word came out accommodations were made at Valley Park Middle School on Overlea Blvd. to open up the cafeteria to an imam to lead some 400 Muslim students through Friday prayer sessions. Word came Tuesday there is a support rally planned for the school Saturday. You can imagine what names you would be called if you planned a rally opposing a non-secular school being used in this way.
These are supposed to be nonreligious public schools and yet there are many references to religious dates of significance — most around mainstream holidays in Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism, but there are many references to Wiccan and Pagan holidays too.
There are many sexuality references as well — including displaying the rainbow colours on the calendar page of the website with the headline “TDSB Celebrates LGBTQ Pride.” When you click on that it comes up saying “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer Pride Week, June 24–July 3, 2011.” It also highlights International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia May 17, Day of Pink April 13, and Days of Silence April 15.
Should the board be made to explain its criteria for what constitutes a day of significance and what doesn’t? And should these dates be included in the planner of kids in Grade 1?
One father who doesn’t think so says his six-year-old son will be introduced to all of this in due time. For now, he just wants him to have a few years before the “equitable and inclusive” educators have full reign.