Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Gay-pride symbols unsuitable for sole display in high schools

PUBLICATION: The Ottawa Citizen
DATE: 2005.04.05
EDITION: Final
SECTION: City
PNAME: City Editorial
PAGE: B4
BYLINE: Sherifat Enikanolaiye
SOURCE: The Ottawa Citizen
ILLUSTRATION: Colour Photo: Pat McGrath, The Ottawa Citizen / SherifatEnikanolaiye says displaying the symbol of one minority group in high schools can make members of other minorities feel left out or alienated.

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Gay-pride symbols unsuitable for sole display in high schools

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A curious new decoration recently graced some of the doors at my high school. I stopped to admire the six colours arranged horizontally on a 4-inch-by-3-inch sticker. Pretty. Or so I thought at the time.

When I talked with a teacher about the rainbow sticker, I was told that it is actually the symbol of gay pride. He said the school board requested that it be displayed as a declaration of its positive hospitality towards all minority groups, a policy known as "inclusion."

The stickers are on display on the outsides of alternate doors in hallways of my Ottawa high school as more than decor, they are also intended to be a declaration of tolerance and an "acceptance of difference."

Displaying these symbols does not achieve the intended objective.

This symbol does not represent the general policy of inclusion. It declares gay pride. Certainly homosexuals should be told that Ottawa's public school system wants them to feel at ease within its walls. Although this concept is quite commendable, however, there is an adverse effect that remains unaddressed. If achieving equality is the goal, none of the different minorities will benefit from being singled out for display on the glass panes of classroom doors. Nor is it beneficial to represent only one group, especially in such a public building.

Inquiring minds want to know if all the many other minorities feel left out. I certainly do. And there are those who feel alienated from their schools by the presence of these symbols. Some feel uneasy about walking into classrooms that display the symbol of a minority they do not belong to. Others have enjoyed the neutrality of their public schools and are now disappointed that the impartiality is being tainted.

Perhaps preoccupied teenagers in the crowded hallways do not even see the symbols, but they are there. If they offend just one person, that is enough to warrant their removal or replacement with one that says "peace, everyone is welcome."

Sherifat Enikanolaiye,

Ottawa

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