Saturday, May 27, 2023

Today's News: Rainbows and Drag Queens and Saskatoon Catholic Schools

I'm pretty sure it was the reference to "Drag Queens Story Hour" that freaked out the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools administration this week. But they'll never admit now that they flipped out due to prejudice and ignorance. 
The documentary I posted above explains Drag Queen story hour at libraries and how much children and families enjoy and appreciate them. It also covers how some right-wingers feel hostile or threatened by drag queens and try to sexualize what is actually a performance art.
Unfortunately, I doubt anyone at the Saskatoon Catholic school administration ever watched this documentary before they started this week's controversy -- they just jumped to ignorant conclusions about drag queens, and uproar ensued. 
Here's what happened: 
The annual Saskatoon Children's Festival is coming up next week (which means we can expect it will rain all week - always does - happens every year.)  Anyway, the Festival includes a bunch of "tents" where children can dance, sing, play with dinosaurs, and so forth. This year the Festival is including a Rainbow Tent, sponsored by Canadian Mental Health, to model inclusiveness and openness - the website described the tent this way: “From Drag Queen Storytime to inclusive dress up performances filled with colour and fun, this tent is full of rainbows”
So our Saskatoon Catholic school leadership decided they should model cowardice and ugly homophobia.
An email from Superintendent of Education Tom Hickey to the principals of Saskatoon Catholic elementary schools says teachers and parent chaperones are not to take students to the “Rainbow Tent” at the Nutrien Children’s Festival this year. 
“Based on the description on the festival website, engagement and participation by our students in that particular onsite offering would not be supported,” [School Superintendent Tom] Hickey wrote on May 17.  
The Festival website mentions "drag queens", and I believe this is likely what started the Saskatoon Catholic school admin freak-out.
They don't know anything ABOUT drag queens, of course, but they know immediately they won't like 'em. And God forbid anybody should do any research or talk to the Festival organizers or Saskatoon Pride or anyone else. Nope, just gotta shut it down. 
The news story continues: 
The Nutrien Children’s Festival reiterated its commitment to the Rainbow Tent and inclusive activities. “...We believe that every child should feel heard, loved, accepted and supported and we work hard to provide performances and activities that support this belief.” 
... Multiple attempts were made to contact Hickey and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools for comment. All phone calls were transferred to voicemail. 
From the tone of that last sentence, I think things will be going downhill for the Catholic schools.
Today's Star Phoenix story includes a non-apology apology which implies that the school admin was only doing what parents want -- and that means no drag queens, I guess:
On Friday afternoon, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools director of education Francois Rivard said the division will continue “to welcome members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. 
“The development of the human person and interpersonal relationships are topics that must involve families,” Rivard said in a statement. “We honour parents and caregivers as first and primary educators of their children. Families who send their children to Catholic schools have a reasonable expectation that the education their children receive is consistent with Catholic teachings and is age-appropriate. Therefore, parents and caregivers are best positioned to decide on their children’s participation in this programming within the festival. 
“We recognize the internal email has been viewed by some as one of judgment, hate and exclusion. That was never the intent, nor does that represent our division’s beliefs. We acknowledge the deep hurt, and for that, we apologize.” 
This story also quotes Saskatoon Pride's remarkably positive and forward-looking statement:
Saskatoon Pride officials said they extend their support to local teachers should they “have any questions moving forward. Saskatoon Pride stands against injustices, and we will continue to uplift and fight for the voices of the 2SLGBTQ+ community members and beyond. It is our hope that the GSCS administration will take our words of wisdom into consideration to include and accept all gender- and sexually-diverse people. 
“We believe that people are worth fighting for, and we believe that children are worth standing up for.”
The Rainbow Tent, Saskatoon Pride said, “is a welcoming and accepting safe space for children, parents, educators, volunteers and friends. We hope that educators within the GSCS will be able to share acceptance and unity with their students while attending the festival. If there is ever a time in our lives where acceptance, understanding, unity, and a little bit of rainbow love is needed for our children, it is now.” 


Cap said...

This is a classic "dog bites man" story. Would we expect an Evangelical Christian, Muslim, Hebrew, or Hindu school to send kids over to the rainbow tent? No, because for better or for worse those faiths teach that homosexuality and gender ideology are wrong.

So why the freak out when a Catholic school does the same thing? The Charter protects freedom of religion, and it's why there are no same-sex marriages being conducted by Catholic priests. Even an atheist like me values freedom of belief and non-belief. It's what allows me to dissent from the old religious orthodoxies, as well as more recent faith-based beliefs.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Using religion to justify bigotry is not okay. Stop rationalizing hate.

Cathie from Canada said...

But Cap, the point is that there is nothing wrong with what happens in any of the tents at the Children's Festival, including the Rainbow one.
On an individual basis, I suppose any parent could ask that their child not attend the Festival - I think schools already accommodate that - but it's not OK for a school system administration to hyperventilate and over-react and decide, in advance and without any consultation either with the Festival or with parents, that a part of the Festival is something they need to shun. As I said, I think the trigger word was "drag queen" and they just got hysterical about it.

Cap said...

So bigotry and hate towards religious believers is okay? This is an age-old conflict of rights between religious freedom and freedom from discrimination on enumerated grounds. So do we live and let live, or continue along the social media-driven path to the purges, public denunciations and forced recantations of Mao's Cultural Revolution or Joseph McCarthy's hunt for communists?

The Canadian compromise was to codify LGBT rights, but not force them on churches, mosques and synagogues or their associated schools. Seems some aren't satisfied with half a loaf.

Cap said...

Cathie, I doubt it was the drag story hour. Catholics are used to men in fancy dresses and ruby red pumps craving the attention of children. 😉

Cathie from Canada said...

Thanks for the comments, Cap. I believe Canada was led on this issue by Paul Martin, who said of the gay marriage issue that it wasn't a religious issue but a civil rights issue and therefore as a Catholic he had no problem with it. I only wish all religious people could see things this way.

Murray B said...

It is interesting when transphobes like Cap use the term "gender Ideology " when commenting on these stories. I wonder if he thinks of his heterosexual binary maleness as an ideology as well. Being transgendered is a state of being, not some political opinion or lifestyle choice.
Murray From BC

e.a.f. said...

Saw the article in the press. First thought: time to get rid of Catholic schools is they're paid for by the province and the other religious schools also. If parents want their kids to go to religious schools they ought to pay the full ride themselves.

I'll give Cap the benefit of the doubt and say I don't think he is a transphobe. He just has a different opinion on the subject.

Its a matter of rights and which takes priority over the other. there is freedom of religion and then there is freedom from religion. In this case having a school board decide whether children can go to a particular show is up to the kid and/or the parents. The people who put on drag shows are entertainers and as such have the right to entertain and do their shows. If you personally don't like them, fine, don't go but kids ought to be able to go to the shows so they can learn about things such as drag shows.
This protection the children is simply bullshit. Most of the anti drag show people are simply using that as an excuse. Many of them don't care about children: just look at child poverty in North America. Lack of health care for children in the U.S.A. and the lack of it in our North and historically for Indigenous children.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you! It’s a catholic school and they are upholding their values as would any other religious school.