As a kid who grew-up with lesbian moms in the 1990s, I’m no stranger to feeling different and knowing that this difference was seen by many people as “bad” and as something to feel ashamed of.
From a young age, I knew that I was different because when I looked around my school, I didn’t see my family anywhere. No one talked about families like mine and classroom activities like drawing a family tree, reading books, or making holiday crafts were all geared to families with one mom and one dad.
Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of young people sitting in classrooms across the country facing the same experience as mine. Maybe it’s because they don’t quite fit in; maybe it’s because of their gender identity or their sexual orientation; maybe it’s because they have two dads or two moms, or are being raised by their grand-parents; or maybe it’s because they’re being bullied and made fun of for being different.
Here’s the problem: misinformation about sex-ed and the exploitation of people’s fears is on the rise in this country to win political points. And what young people stand to lose in this fight is clear: their health, their safety, and their wellbeing. Sex-ed (when done well) saves lives.
That is why I’m asking for you to make an urgent donation today. Invest in young people’s sexual health by making a monthly or one-time gift by pressing donate now.
Just before I was born in 1986, my moms were the first in British Columbia to win same-sex spousal benefits from the Vancouver district school board. But after I was born, only my birth mom’s name was allowed on my birth certificate, my other mom had no rights – our family wasn’t recognized in law and policy in the province or country.
Being unrecognized by law and policy made me feel invisible, isolated, and afraid of being bullied for what I knew was different about me. As a 6-year-old, I was scared to make friends or bring them over to my house.
I remember the day when my non-birth mom adopted me. At the time, this was the only way that she could be legally recognized as my parent. I was 9 years old. We had been living in Ontario for a few years and I didn’t tell anyone, not even my best friends, even though, inside, I was bursting with excitement. I knew the significance of that day. I knew that in a way, our family was becoming more “legitimate” in the eyes of the law. To me, it signaled hope that one day I might not have as much to fear or hide.
In the 90s there were not many reflections of my family in classrooms or popular media. In fact, the only reflections that I had growing up were 3 children’s books my moms and their lesbian friends purchased for me at feminist fringe bookstores. These same 3 books were the source of a Supreme Court of Canada challenge after a local school district in British Columbia banned them from classrooms based on fears of the “gay agenda” and being “age-inappropriate.”
What is age inappropriate about learning the different forms that love and family can take? Having those books in school libraries was a way of providing representation where there was none, adding a tiny bit of safety and support to kids who were (and still are) pushing through very narrow definitions of family, love, relationships, and pregnancy options.
That is why I also feel so passionate about getting Action Canada’s sex-ed resource, Beyond the Basics, into as many classrooms as possible. I feel proud to be part of an organization that is making sure educators are teaching material that is inclusive from the start, not an afterthought on sexuality, anatomy, relationships, and choice.
We are currently conducting research on the state of sex-ed in Canada and will use our findings to continue building support from the public and our governments for quality sex-ed across the country.
We’ve also been working with local partners and allies in different provinces, including through the submission of an urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Procedures on the human rights violations regarding the repeal of the 2015 curriculum in Ontario and the creation of a teacher “snitch-line.” With socially conservative forces organizing in several provinces and emboldening political leaders across the country, it is critical that now more than ever, we build a strong, sustainable national campaign that is agile in its approach and able to flex with the constantly shifting political landscape.
Sex-ed is not controversial. By making a commitment to become a monthly donor, you will be helping us build our campaign in sustainable and lasting ways to push for sex-ed across the country that is inclusive, comprehensive, and human rights-based. Your support is urgently needed.