Participants: Mary; GSA; Community; Discrimination; Catholic
Mary: We had uh, a teacher who was the teacher who was the head of the religion department a number of years ago, uh and he started the GSA at our school. And I think that that point, there had never been a GSA in any Catholic school.
Mary: And he called the group Dialogue, and he spear-headed it with with some other teachers - both gay and straight. Um, and uh, it really fit in well with the, the kids, and it was a very popular group, and they, they were involved a lot of activism. I wasn’t really that involved with the group. Occasionally I would, I’d go up and just check it out, or I would you know, sub in if someone, if the moderator was not able to attend the meetings - that kind of thing. Um, so I mean, I, I, I think we’ve created a very good situation here, through, you know just a lot of dialogue, no pun intended. [Tara laughs] And, and openness, and willingness to, to expand on things, and I mean I think thats been the nature of, of the community here, but I did have a situation where um, there was a meeting sponsored by Egale...
Mary: ...For GSA’s in these kinds of early days, and uh, the moderator for our dialogue group couldn’t go and asked if I would take them.
Mary: So I kind of stepped in to it at that point. I was, I was really very, very shocked at talking to other teachers, and teacher moderators of other GSAs at other schools, at the issues that they were experiencing at their schools. Um, one teacher said, “I didn’t get permission to come, I’ve, I’ve taken a sick day to come,” and the kids would not get permission from the principal, they um, they too had to have their parents call them in sick and, but they really wanted to come to this, but the principal at that particular school absolutely would not um, um, be there, and allow them to be there. And stories like that I was very very shocked by. Um, but at that meeting, there was also the, the president of um, our teachers union, OECTA, who came and spoke and said how proud he was to see so many groups there. And then it started to feel like maybe the winds of change are blowing or something. It, uh, and I think that whole movement is now, you know, expanding and growing, and, and kids are finding that they have a bit more of um, a say and an open situation in their schools. I don’t know the stats on bullying and that kind of thing, and again I fee like we’re in a bit of a bubble here in this particular community.
Mary: But um, I think kids now have language to address these issues, and, uh have much more, uh uh, strength to say, you know “that’s not acceptable”, and it’s all good.