While I do not support taking away the rights of youth to form any type of group, I kept waking up all through the night with so many thoughts going through my head that I had to share. Because if you force me to answer, I will say that Gay Straight Alliances are more for the parents than the youth, and I would be very interested in seeing how they would run. Because you know what makes me sad? That people think we need such "alliances". An alliance to me suggests a "us against them" line of thinking, and I think that is wrong. Let me explain my line of thinking.
When I went away to college, I made all kinds of friends. I felt like I had been thrust into some kind of bakery where suddenly I could find a pastry to suit my tastes instead of always just settling for bread because of no variety. I met people from different cultures, races, and countries, and I hungrily learned about the way they grew up and how we were all different. And there was one girl that I started meeting up along the route to class, and we had so much to chat about, we quickly became friends. I loved that she loved talking about books and music, and politics and she was just fun to be around. We ate together, we hung out after class and chatted about life. Now remember, I was from rural Cape Breton, and I had very limited interactions with people of colour, of different religions, and with gay people. In fact, I would say I knew gay people growing up, but I never knew they were gay, it just was not talked about at home, and when people moved away and finally "came out" it was still "the talk" for a while afterwards.
Christmas exams came and went, and we were getting ready to go home for the holidays, and this young girl asked me to go for supper downtown. I could tell that she was nervous, and I wondered aloud almost right away about what was wrong. Turns out she was gay, and I had no clue. And she was terrified of telling me because she was not sure how I would react. And I will never forget that moment, because I was so sad that she thought it would change how much I liked her. Twenty three years later, we still keep in touch. And it still makes me sad that people need to create alliances because of how they choose to live, what religion they are, or even if they are a woman or not. That's just me, it makes me sad. This video kept popping into my head last night that I saw a few years ago.
But I was upset last night for another reason.
Last week it was reported that in the last 8 months, 18 children have died in the Child Welfare system of Alberta. Just stop for one minute and think about that....18 children. 18 children that are just like your children, just like your grandchildren, children that will not grow up and ever have the chance to have the lives that we all so often take for granted.
I am willing to bet you didn't hear that story. And this is what makes me angry and sad over and over again. Where is the outrage for those 18 children??? Why are we not flooding twitter and screaming about THEIR rights?? We have been fostering for 6 years now, and I will admit I have become a bit jaded with the system, as it doesn't work for the children, it does not have their best interests at heart, and it needs to be fixed in so many ways. So why keep doing it you ask? Because of those 18 children, and all the others who keep getting lost in the stupid government bureaucracy.
But it's not just the government at fault. People in general, just don't care about foster kids. It took me 6 years to say that, but it's true. If you have a dog found in a dumpster, more people will react to that story that they will to a story about a child in foster care who has died. It's like everyone puts blinders on to these kids, they are someone else's problem. And as foster parents, we are often silenced about the system because we don't want to cause trouble for workers, or the agencies we are with, but I think that is usually an initial reaction, and many of us find our voices and try to bring some changes for these children. Problem is that the government is not listening to us. And children will keep dying in care. We are lucky in Fort McMurray to have two wonderful agencies which supports their foster parents. I don't remember, and cannot find a story of a child dying in care up here. Maybe the government could start by looking at what is different up here?
And lastly, on the Bill 10 issue, I have been talking with a young woman a lot lately(not from Fort McMurray, but she does live in Alberta), about this bill. And last night we were messaging back and forth when she said a few things that really struck me. First of all she said that having these clubs would be nice for some at school, but in general, gay people don't go out trying to "form alliances or friendships with straight people specifically, so why do straight people feel the need to go make gay friends?" And she also made another point that people of her age(she is 16), don't care what "the suits in Edmonton decide". And that point really struck a nerve with me, because I started thinking about my own youth, and when politicians made decisions that I thought really sucked....generally, their decisions or their thoughts on matters really didn't change my life that much. And like this girl said, youth today are way more socially intelligent then I was at their age. They are like me in college, where they really don't stop and analyze if someone is gay or not. So maybe it's time for us adults to just back off some, and make sure that your kid is growing up feeling loved at home, and they know that they and their friends can gather at your house to discuss whatever in the heck they want.
My final admittance is that I have always been a parent who believes that it is not the school's duty to raise our kids. Yes, I want schools to be a place where all students feel safe and secure in expressing themselves, but I will forever think it takes a village to raise a child, and I feel that way too much responsibility can be put onto the schools just so that some parents don't have to actually parent. But that's a whole other post.
I guess the point of my rant is that while it sucks that some students might have to fight for a right to form a club, I would rather focus on the children who are being denied so many other rights. Alberta, can we can a little more upset about dying children then about the right for a club that many will probably not even join in the first place?