Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Randy Hillier Wrong On Bullying Bill

Randy Hillier, MPP in the Parliament of Ontario, has opined against the current Liberal government’s anti-bullying legislation: “Bill 13, Accepting Schools Act, 2011”

Sticks and Stones

Writes Mr. Hillier:
Unlike many of those who have announced support for Bill 13, I have read the complete bill and the relevant sections of the Education Act that it amends.

A dubious claim, at best. For example, he accuses the bill of “not providing schools with any additional tools to reward or punish behaviour.”

Well, let’s look at the bill that Mr. Hillier claims to have read.

In the last section of the bill, paragraphs are added to Section 310 of the Education Act, adding that bullying is grounds for suspension and, therefore, subsequently expulsion.

That sounds like a new tool for punishing bad behaviour, or at least permission to use an old tool for a new reason. I don’t know what bill Mr. Hillier read.

He further writes:
Bill 13 mandates creating a host of new school clubs which could identify people in the club as being: “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, two-spirited, intersexed, queer (or) questioning.”

Go read it. There’s nothing in that bill requiring the forming of clubs. School boards are required to support students who want to create their own clubs for promoting awareness of sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination.

Personally, I think that forming such clubs would be a good idea. A lot of people think so, including – it turns out – Mr. Hillier.

I know. Weird, huh? Let me explain.

He starts by saying that these clubs will single out students who join them and that this will make bullying worse. This ignores the fact that gay students are already being bullied into suicide and that the purpose of the clubs is to create alliances between the bullied gay kids and the straight kids who want to stand up for them.

But later in the article, he tells us:
The depth of a child’s understanding is amplified not only through reward or punishment, but by learning compassion and empathy. The difference between adults and children is that adults are expected to have already learned the lessons of life and developed conscience and compassion on their road to maturity.

Strange, isn’t it?

Here he is railing against the clubs and awareness groups that the law will permit – not require, but permit – and at the end of his article he writes about how important it is that children develop empathy. Gee, I wonder how they could do that, Mr Hillier. Maybe – could they – just possibly – learn it from groups of other students who promote awareness of these issues?

If you really want to understand Randy Hillier’s problem though, it’s located right in the middle of his article:
Bill 13 does the exact opposite of what is needed. Rather than minimizing differences, it helps segregate and highlight the differences between people.

What is needed, according to Mr. Hillier, is to minimize our differences. We need to get those gay kids to just stop acting so … god … damned … gay! Just act like straight kids! Play sports! Break things! Get out more! Except the girls … you lesbians need to stop dressing like boys, stay inside and take up sewing. Buy a dress and put on some make-up. We’re trying to minimize differences here, people! Get with the Randy Hillier program!

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