I have been asked to respond to questions about faith-based public schools. I must confess that these questions have given me some serious pause, not for what they ask, but for what they imply. So I’ll take this opportunity to be clear. I am absolutely supportive of diversity: in the ways in which we teach our students, in the ways in which people express themselves, and in the ways in which people live out their faith and beliefs. I think that faith-based schools are a fantastic alternative for families who seek to provide a deep religious education of their children as part of their everyday learning environment. I am absolutely opposed to bullying. Period. I think what has made me uncomfortable is that these questions I have been asked have implied that if I am opposed to bullying I am threatening someone’s faith. Is bullying allowed in anyone’s faith? Maybe someone out there can enlighten me on a religion that tolerates violence and harassment of children in any school, much less in a school funded by your tax dollars.
The Edmonton Public School Board has been very clear in its policies in the past, that there is no reason for violence or threats of violence to be anyone’s experience in our schools, FOR ANY REASON, and I wholeheartedly agree. If this offends you, I can’t comprehend why. If this seems to indicate that I lack tolerance for your faith, I can’t comprehend why. A friend of mine reminds me that as a society, Canadians have been clear that we will ameliorate discrimination and oppression with clarity. The EPSB policy does that for students who are or have been systemically bullied, and I fully support their courage and foresight.