The whiplash one could get in recent days from following the saga of GSAs, Jason Kenney and Brian Jean is nothing short of astonishing – and painful, too.
Jason Kenney, newly elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, recently came out with a statement that parents of kids who join GSAs should be informed by the school of this, unless the parents are “abusive”. Never mind that the parameters for “abusive” were never defined, never mind that schools have never informed parents when their kids join the chess club or the glee club, never mind that this has the potential to out kids to their parents before they are ready, never mind that this could put kids at risk…and never mind that wading into this was a foolish idea in the first place and he should likely know this, he did it anyhow and the negative reaction, as one might expect, was swift and hard.
It appeared Jason Kenney was not interested in protecting kids, as his interest was in garnering votes, and this did not go down well with many, myself included.
Enter Brian Jean, Leader of the Wildrose Party. Why he would wade into this topic is yet another mystery, as there is clearly nothing to be gained from this topic when one is an elected representative.
Brian’s first response was one that made me incredibly proud. He stated, quite unequivocally, that parents should not be notified when their kids joined a GSA and that this information needed to come to parents from their kids.
I will be very frank. I have not always been kind to Brian, as he represents my community and region and I expect a lot of our representatives. However, I have come to respect his representation of Fort McMurray as our MLA, and his response on GSAs was one I could definitely support and respect as the parent of a youth who co-founded the first GSA in Fort McMurray.
Then came a story in the Calgary Sun, where it appeared he made another statement at odds with his first one. Then, as the brouhaha from that began to grow, he issued another statement, this time on his Facebook page, indicating his initial statement was the accurate one.
And likely so are the thousands of LGBTQ kids in this province and their straight allies, who simply want Gay-Straight Alliances as safe spaces where they can watch Disney movies, eat cupcakes, talk about equality and sing “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga.
It reminds one of the Pink Floyd song:
Leave them kids alone.
My kid, your kid, every kid in this province: not pawns for anyone’s political gain. As Jason and Brian begin their “unite the right” talks I suggest they start with one piece of common ground and very simply leave the kids out of it, whatever their sexual orientation.
During the last two years I have seen some mind-blowing commentary on GSAs, such as:
GSAs are more for the parents than the kids – this one is actually hilarious, as my kid, who co-founded one, had to explain what it was to me when she did. I would bet a good number of parents are similar to me.
GSAs are hook-up clubs for horny kids – this one barely dignifies an answer, but they are no more a hook-up club than the chess club, drama club, badminton club or any other club, and diminishing and demeaning youth in this way just shows how obsessed adults are with sex, not how kids see it.
Parents have a right to know as they own their children – yep. I have seen parents and other adults suggest kids are basically property we own, not actual human beings who might have their own set of rights.
Parents know what is best for their kids – when it comes to being an expert on their own family dynamics and if “coming out” to their parents would be well-received, I would suggest kids know that one far better than any politician does. And kids have rights too, including a right to privacy when it comes to their sexual orientation.
You know what kids don’t need?
Politicians arguing about their rights on the front page of every paper, completely ignoring that those kids can in fact read. They don’t need to have their trust and faith in adults further diminished as the adults who are supposedly our provincial leaders discuss their rights as if the kids don’t even have a stake in the outcome. And they don’t need to be used as pawns in a struggle for political power.
Leave them kids alone.
Let them form student clubs in peace, allow them to support each other, let them bake cupcakes and sing Lady Gaga and watch movies and let them just be kids already, okay? Kids are already throwing up walls as fast as they can to distance themselves from us and our adult obsessions, preoccupations and absurdities. Stop talking about them like they aren’t in the room, because they are and they are watching every damn thing you do.
And some of them, like my kid who is about to turn 18 and enter voting booths and run for political office some day, are taking notes, too.
I would guess a lot of those notes read like this:
“Things not to do as a politician: underestimate kids”.
Oh, and probably this:
“Things to do as a politician: Leave them kids alone.”
Otherwise, all in all you’re just another brick in the wall.