We need to learn to disagree without alienating
by katlyn richardson, contributor
A teacher in Edmonton recently sparked controversy by accusing some Muslim students of not being Canadian enough because they chose not to attend a pride event due to their religious beliefs. This incident highlighted the issues of xenophobia, homophobia, and transphobia that are pretty common (especially in education) in society today. It is now more crucial than ever to address these forms of hate, especially in the role of educators who have the responsibility to shape the future members of our society.
The foundation of any country lies in accepting and celebrating our differences. While individuals are entitled to their own beliefs and opinions, it is highly disrespectful to demean others based on personal or religious beliefs and invites the worst kind of behavior among those in positions of power. When a nation begins to impose legal restrictions on people’s existence, particularly when they pose no threat to public safety, it creates the worst version of society that can exist.
The Edmonton teacher involved in this incident failed to understand the role of an educator in such a scenario. True education requires not only teaching but also learning, especially when individuals from different cultures or religions express that certain practices clash with their beliefs. This teacher had the opportunity to foster understanding and promote acceptance among students by addressing this situation. By doing so, the school could have become a more inclusive space for all students, regardless of their backgrounds. This incident reflects the growing division in society where it often feels like different groups are pitted against each other, each seeking their own interests without considering the well-being of others and ignoring the fact they are being no better than the other groups causing harm and spewing more hatred.
As someone with a disability, I have personally experienced the struggle for acceptance and equal rights. For a long time, disabled individuals fought against the notion that it was merciful to end their lives due to their condition. Unfortunately, some people still hold such beliefs. The education system now addresses these issues, but it took me until university to gain a comprehensive understanding of queer history, despite the fact that same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada when I was around nine years old. It has been nearly two decades since then, and while I see more young people embracing their queer identities, it is the responsibility of educators to create an environment where future generations can be accepted and thrive. This collective effort is essential for ensuring equal rights for all marginalized groups.
In order to achieve a better future, we must work together to prevent those who refuse to grow and change from impeding the progress of future generations. It is through collaboration and education that we can pave the way for a society where all groups have equal rights and opportunities. Let us strive to build a world where acceptance and inclusivity are cherished values, allowing every individual to live their lives authentically and without fear of discrimination.
Canada is described as a mosaic where all these pieces that make us unique create a beautiful picture when together. As American beliefs of the melting pot infect Canadian society, we need to be extra vigilant about holding our own beliefs. After all, when they were blanketed with the smoke from our wildfires this week, the only points on conversation they had was how their air quality sucked. If America can’t be bothered to care beyond themselves, then the last thing we need is their culture ruining ours.