Michelle McHale says kids bullied her 12-year-old son at his middle school about her sexual orientation.
“About six months ago, we started to see some things shift, he started to use some language that just wasn’t his own, about not feeling comfortable in a homosexual environment, and before it was just us,” said McHale.
McHale took her concerns to the school principal in the Hanover School Division.
“They said that the teachers and staff respond by asking kids not to make derogatory comments,” said McHale.
She also wanted to know if same-sex relationships were taught in class. “They said that they didn’t discuss anything in the classrooms to do with homosexuality, and that had been the direction from the division.”
McHale says the division confirmed that statement to her. “The division says, ‘Well, the province is okay with it because this is how it’s set up. We can customize this for the community.’”
“We’re in a community that is highly religious,” said McHale.
The Hanover School Division didn’t clarify its policy with CTV, but in an email statement, said it’s “committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive environment in which students, staff and parents are aware of and respect the human rights.”
McHale compiled research made in Manitoba and met with school division officials this week to discuss why LGBTQ education is a human rights issue.
“It’s not about teaching kids about sex at a really young age. It’s about diversity and inclusion,” said McHale.
She came up with a series of timelines for when she wants to see change.
She says trustees from the Hanover School Division said they would discuss her concerns at next month’s meeting
“What I’m hoping that they’ll do is within the next 30 days, allow discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in the classrooms,” said McHale.
McHale also wants to see changes for the start of the next school year following an equity and diversity policy, similar to ones in place at some Winnipeg schools.
The Hanover School Division said it couldn’t yet comment on McHale’s concerns.
The next trustee meeting is set for May 3.
McHale said she’s now contacted the minister of education with her concerns, and is waiting to hear back.