September 18, 2023
Honourable Heather Stefanson, Premier
Wab Kinew, New Democratic Party Leader
Dougald Lamont, Liberal Party Leader
Dear Premier and Opposition Party Leaders:
Re: Unequivocal Support for Inclusive, Safe Schools
As you are no doubt aware, a series of marches are planned across Canada on September 20 in an insidious attempt to promote hate and compromise the safety of 2SLGBTQIA+ youth. Here in Manitoba, marches are planned for Winnipeg, Brandon, Steinbach, Winkler and Dauphin.
These events, billed erroneously and unscrupulously as an effort to unite diverse backgrounds and faiths, seek to amplify homophobic and transphobic sentiments under the guise of safeguarding what are already established parental rights. These initiatives are physically and emotionally dangerous for members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and their allies, of which The Manitoba Teachers’ Society is one. This movement, these attacks, must stop.
We have all witnessed the alarming rise in volatility and violence against the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in recent years. And this spring, across Manitoba, it escalated further, playing out in boardrooms and classrooms, libraries and living rooms. Attempts to ban books along with bigoted tirades in school board meetings and on social media platforms have become commonplace, aiming to galvanize support for the erosion of personal safety among those least able to defend themselves.
We cannot stand by. We cannot remain silent while fearmongering and rhetoric replace compassion and community. We must all—every one of us—make it abundantly clear that no matter what our politics, no matter what our faith or background, Manitoba has no place for hate.
Our members, teachers across the province, have been present at community and school board meetings throughout the spring, standing tall as allies and educators, and will continue to do so. We will defend, with all that we value, the right to teach using approved educational resources that promote understanding, empathy and allyship. And we will speak up and stand up with unequivocal commitment to protect students and school staff from discrimination and bigotry.
We know that the taking of such a stance is not without risk. We will remain vigilant, however, as we hope our provincial government will, in the face of threats to the safety, security of person and wellbeing of young people. Such is the responsibility of adults charged with educating our youth, and such is the responsibility of their government. No one should be subjected to cruelty and hate. Not teachers, not students. No one.
We implore you to make public your stance against hate. We ask that you make clear your commitment to children’s safety. We ask that each of you support, without reservation, the use of curriculum and school resources designed to educate and advance understanding and a peaceful, just society. Manitobans need to hear your voices.
The Manitoba Teachers’ Society calls on all three major political parties to stand together against hate and in steadfast support of educational resources that promote safe and inclusive schools.
We need to see you, we need to hear you. Statements from each of the major parties in advance of September 20 would contribute meaningfully to a coherent, collective message that transcends partisanship in support of every child’s right to be protected and safe.
A peaceful counter-protest is planned for Wednesday, September 20, 8:30 a.m. at the Manitoba Legislature. There is also a Rally for Trans Youth at the Legislature on Sunday, September 24, at 11:00 a.m. Please stand with us, so that our children, especially those in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and their families, know that all Manitobans believe all children deserve to be protected and defended.
c. Manitoba Association of School Superintendents (MASS)
Manitoba School Boards Association (MSBA)
Manitoba Association of School Business Officials (MASBO)
Manitoba Association of Parent Councils (MAPC)