The idea that schools need to be a safe-space for students is nothing new.
Advocates for Youth define a safe-space as “a place where anyone can relax and be fully self-expressed, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, age, physical or mental ability; a place where the rules guard each person’s self-respect and dignity and strongly encourage everyone to respect others.”
But last month in Canada, more than a few feathers were ruffled as part of their Safe and Positive Space campaign. In Ontario, the Toronto District School Board began a campaign a few years ago that aimed to tackle gender-based violence. Part of the campaign was a series of posters. The most recent poster is titled Love Has No Gender and features coloured hearts with stick figures. These depictions include MM, MF, FF, FFM, MMF, as well as figures with disabilities. 12,000 posters were printed and posted in approximately 600 schools.
The TDSB said their intent was “…to support an individual’s right to express whom they love, regardless of gender.” Sounds good, right?
Not to everyone, a lot of parents, conservative groups, and newspapers spoke out against the posters. Some thought the imagery was too confusing and/or helped to promote promiscuity and polygamy. It wasn’t seen as respecting poly families.
Other parents, teachers, and media groups expressed positive reactions, stating the posters would spark conversations about various lifestyle choices as well as promote respect and tolerance. “These kinds of campaigns are part of that, they’re part of shining a light on the reality that we are all different,” said Annie Kidder, executive director of parent-led advocacy group People for Education.
I think the extensive media coverage, positive and negative, can only help to promote dialogue among students, teachers, and parents, and which will include polyamory.
Check out Polyamory in the News! for more articles and opinions about the poster.