Gay Students Should Act Less Gay Says School Board Trustee, Apologizes
EDMONTON - An Alberta school trustee is being roundly criticized for suggesting gay students can avoid bullying by being less open about their sexual orientation.
Dale Schaffrick, trustee for the Pembina Hills school division northwest of Edmonton, made the comment during a policy debate at the fall meeting of the Alberta School Boards Association earlier this week.
Schaffrick, a farmer from Barrhead, refused Thursday to explain his position and simply said he's sorry for the words he used. "They were inappropriate and offensive and I apologize for that."
Reaction has been swift and fierce on the Internet.
One man named Alex posted a message on Twitter: "#actlessgay how about #actlessredneck." Another chimed in with "Dear Dale Schaffrick, can you please 'act less bigoted?' Or better yet, just resign."
Even Alberta Education Minister Jeff Johnson fired off some tweets.
"As a parent I would never ask my child to hide who they are," he wrote. "Education Act is clear — all kids deserve a safe welcoming place to go to school no matter what they wear or how visible they are."
Later, talking with reporters, Johnson said all trustees in the province are expected to do everything they can to protect children. He wouldn't say whether he thinks Schaffrick should resign.
"That's a choice for electors right now."
Gay activist Murray Billett told news media that Schaffrick's comments are the kind "that force a kid to go to the barn and hang himself."
Chevi Rabbit, a 26-year-old who made headlines last summer when he was allegedly taunted with gay slurs and attacked by three men in Edmonton, was so angry he posted Schaffrick's home number and email address on the Internet. He encouraged others to send the trustee their best gay photos.
"Be less gay or get attacked! That's basically the message," Rabbit wrote on Facebook.
Schaffrick said he has received some "unpleasant" phone calls, but wouldn't elaborate on the backlash.
Jacquie Hansen, president of the Alberta School Boards Association, said she's disappointed by Schaffrick's remark but it's sad to see him being hounded for it.
"That takes us right back to bullying ... There's a certain irony about it all."
She said Schaffrick made the comment Monday while trustees debated a proposal that called for all schools in the province to protect gay students and staff from discrimination. The motion came from Edmonton Public Schools, which approved such a policy last year.
After about 45-minutes of "passionate" discussion, members voted to shut down the debate, Hansen said. Some 62 per cent of trustees then voted to reject the proposal.
She said the majority of trustees didn't want a policy that protects only gay students from discrimination. "The feeling in the room was we'd rather have a policy for all kids and that bullying shouldn't be tolerated no matter who you are or what you have to deal with in your world."
She said trustees voted earlier in the day to accept another motion that promotes "equality of opportunity, dignity and respect" for all.
"Unfortunately, this is being seen as anti-gay and that's not what this is about," Hansen said. "This is about policy and this is how to best protect our kids."
I'm straight, and believe the opposite to be true: that if children were MORE open about their sexuality, both gay and straight would be bullied less often. I think a lot of bullying of gays comes from a heterosexual fear, not entirely unfounded, that some who pretend to be straight are actually scheming on them and gay.
How many DL readers here crush on straight men at work etc.? Even straight adults don't realize how persistent this can be. With kids it's much worse. Maybe phys ed should just be abolished.
Administration, faculty and security need to do a much better job of protecting all their students from violence.
People tend to forget that middle school and high school are supposed to be safe havens for educational pursuit.
The reigning idea of "Kids will be kids" is detrimental to society. If a kid does not feel safe, a kid does not learn. Period.
I survived school by going deep into the closet. I even went through the trouble of keeping a few girlfriends in high school to throw the homophobes off my trail. Not only was it not fair to me, but to those girls that I "dated" at the time.
I felt so depressed and miserable in school. Even though I had friends there was always a wall between myself and others because I could never tell anyone my true feelings.
The profound sense of isolation scarred me for many years. It was only until my junior year in college when I finally mustered the courage to be myself was I able to repair the damage.
Please don't come here r1. You're entire post reeks of homophobia.
And bullies can avoid bullying by being less open about their fear and hatred.
WTF is R4 talking about?
Nonsense R1. Why would they "Fear" it. They don't fear girls hitting on them with unwanted attention. They tell them no, etc. So why do they have such an exaggerated fear of guys doing it? Easy: they've been socially conditioned to hate gays in the absence of gays.
So your conclusion is right, but the reason is wrong.
Nice try, r1. But no, not so much. "Scheming", "crushing?" This isn't a sitcom. Did I look at cute straight boys in 7th grade? Sure. Do I look at hot straight guys as an adult? Sure. Human nature dictates that we're going to admire that which we find beautiful. It doesn't mean we're devising plans to get these guys in bed or treating them as some kind of puppy love idols.
I've only pursued one straight guy in my life, and that was only because he told me he'd received & enjoyed blowjobs from gay guys in the past. Even then I had enough sense to never let things get physical. I wanted love; he wanted sex.
Nobody should come out until they graduate high school (and leave home).
I bet you don't consider yourself the least bit homophobic, do you?
yeah, fucking Alberta
Trolling for a response.
Told you Canada was going hardcore Republican!
If we all moved to Canada, we could stop it.
Imagine Mrs Patrick Campbell running for Alberta Premier. Imagine Miss Helenbedd taking over the administration of the University of Alberta at Leduc.