Wednesday, October 20, 2010
RALLY AT THE MANITOBA LEGISLATURE WEDNESDAY OCT. 20 5-7PM
HAM Happens: So Let's Talk About It! is a youth led campaign and day of action to raise awareness and generate public discussion about the inadequate and regressive state of sexual health education in the Manitoba school system today.
Standing in solidarity with the Awareness Rally Against Homophobic Bullying, we have gathered to send a message to Manitobans and our government that homophobic bullying is not just a problem in the United States: it exists in the classrooms and playgrounds of our own schools and there are shortcomings in the Manitoba sexual health curriculum and certain school division policies continue to sustain the problem rather than help to eliminate it.
Our campaign name, HAM Happens, is derived from the informal title students and teachers have given to one such homophobic policy at the River-East Transcona school division. The policy, known as “HAM,” delimits how and when teachers delivering the health curriculum are allowed to discuss topics of Homosexuality (sexual orientation), Abortion, and Masturbation.
The policy is presented as a guideline for teachers and is included in the River-East Transcona School Division Administrator's Handbook “Planning for Potentially Sensitive Outcomes.” * The guideline instructs teachers that sexual orientation, abortion, and masturbation are NOT to be introduced as lesson topics in health class, and that discussion about these topics may only happen when initiated by students. It is unclear why River-East Transcona School Division has singled out sexual orientation, abortion, and masturbation for special treatment in this regard.
By classifying sexual orientation, a woman's right to choose abortion, and the natural and healthy act of self pleasure as topics unfit to be taught as part of a complete sexual health education, the policy stigmatizes these issues and thereby stigmatizes and shames the young people who seek information or have questions about their sexuality. A sexual health education that fails to normalize these critical issues and present information in an upfront and supportive manner, but instead reinforces homosexuality, gender-queer identity, abortion, and masturbation as taboo subjects sends a message to young people that discrimination and shaming on these grounds is acceptable. Youth who experience confusion and insecurity about their sexual or gender identity or who need accurate and non-judgemental information about abortion should not have to be the instigators when it comes to accessing these resources.
The “HAM” policy is a case study in the failure of our school system to effectively empower young people with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate a complex social and sexual world. The HAM Happens: So Let's Talk About It! day of action seeks to reinvigorate a public discussion about Manitoba's sexual health curriculum—to take an honest, open, and frank look at sexuality and youth in Manitoba today.
Join us Wednesday, October 20 from 5-7pm at the Manitoba Legislature.
* The River-East Transcona school division denies the existence of any official policy delimiting classroom discussion of homosexuality, abortion, and masturbation, however our research into this matter suggests a different story. Please visit http://hamhappens.blogspot.com for more information.