Do you have a queasy feeling about what your child is learning in school, but are afraid to speak out? Worried that if you share your concerns with other parents, you’ll appear to be racist, or a homophobe, for expressing your reservations?
You’re far from alone.
Many Ontario teachers feel tremendous pressure to teach content under the umbrella of “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” (DEI) which sounds like a good idea. We all want a society that is fair and tolerant of all humans, regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation or identity.
The reality is, however, that the DEI agenda goes far beyond those admirable goals. The proof is in the pudding: during streamed workshops that my 10 year old students have had to attend, kids heard about sex transition, non-binary identities, and the gender unicorn. These topics are developmentally inappropriate for such young children, so it isn’t surprising that my students were confused by all of it.
During African Heritage Month’s streamed seminar, (the 27.15 minute mark) students from grades K-12 were informed that “anti-black racism is deeply entrenched in Canadian society, our institutions, and by extension, our schools,” and that black kids are subjected to trauma, “rooted in white supremacy.”
How is this content even remotely appropriate for elementary school children? Ontario boards, as well as the teacher’s union (ETFO) claim it all falls under the “Equity as a Leadership Competency,” guidelines which are so vague, they could justify almost any content.
This collection of “knowledge,” is based on Critical Race Theory, and Gender Ideology, which imposes theoretical ideas as established fact. Some of those ideas include concepts such as “white privilege,” “white supremacy,” and the idea that “gender is a construct.”
Sadly, educators are told that it’s no longer enough to teach about the heroic efforts of civil rights pioneers like Viola Desmond, and the values of respect and tolerance for all, regardless of their race and gender. This message is empowering, and reminds students that brave people have made remarkable changes in our society, and that Canada has made enormous strides in recognizing the rights of people of colour and those in the LGBTQ community. Instead, teachers are pushing a message of despair: there are marginalized groups who remain oppressed, along the lines of race and gender identity, and white and cisgender students are among the most complicit.
Those ideas used to be limited to the university, and presented as theory; now, they have entered public education, and used to indoctrinate the youngest members of our society. Even infants are a target population, if you use this Toronto District School Board reading group on Ibram X Kendi’s Anti-Racist Baby as a guide.
Far from eradicating racism and gender-based discrimination, Critical Race Theory and Gender Ideology are highly divisive, and possibly harmful. White children are told that they are complicit in a system that actively denigrates people who look different from them; students of colour and gender-questioning children are told that they are victims of state-sponsored oppression and societal cruelty. This isn’t an empowering message, for anyone, let alone developing minds.
There is absolutely no evidence that this kind of indoctrination will eradicate discrimination, nor promote equity. Personally, I remain haunted by my students’ faces, having to sit through confusing, and at times highly disturbing talks. Furthermore, there are teachers that proudly share, during staff meetings and professional development seminars that they do not permit “gendered language,” and discuss “white privilege,” with students as young as eight years old. These “woke” teachers are praised by the administration and presented as teachers everyone should emulate.
I implore you to not shy away from fighting this. Reach out to other parents. Even if it’s a small group, know that your child’s teacher, principal, and superintendent need to hear that you won’t stand for indoctrination in the classroom.
We all have agency. These are our publicly funded schools, but we can only reclaim them when we demand it. Do call your schools, as well as your government officials, and let them know that our taxpayer dollars should not fund programs of indoctrination.
The future of public education, and possibly our democracy, depends on it.
The author is a teacher in the Ontario Public school system, and can be found on Twitter as Not Woke