Searching for sex ed in Ontario…

When Kait was in her early teens, I agreed to send her to a sex education program run through our Unitarian Universalist congregation. This program was comprehensive, informative, and LGBTQ friendly, something that couldn’t be said about the school’s program at the time. When he got old enough, Colin got sent to the same program for the same reasons.

In 2015, after several years of research and discussion, our then premier, Kathleen Wynne, unveiled a new program. It was comprehensive, informative, and LGBTQ friendly. Young children were taught the names their body parts, including their genitals, while older children learned about consent, sexting, and online bullying. And LGBTQ students were addressed as well.

We have a new premier now, a buffoon named Doug Ford. He’s not only scrapped the new program but has set up a snitch line so parents and students can report any teacher who uses any material from the now scrapped program. The old program, written in 1998, did not include online bullying, which makes sense since we were on dial up. The new program does. So if a teacher addresses online bullying, they could be facing disciplinary actions.

Meanwhile a generation of students need education.

That’s were the Canadian Unitarian Council comes in. They are offering to teach any student in Ontario the OWL program (Our Whole Lives). From their press statement

The Canadian Unitarian Council is deeply concerned that the loss of comprehensive sexuality education in Ontario schools will leave children and youth vulnerable at a time when they most need accurate information and empowerment to make good decisions. Asha Philar, OWL Coordinator for the CUC states, “The Our Whole Lives program gives youth the tools to make healthy and age-appropriate choices and helps LGBTQ youth find self-acceptance and support. Without access to accurate information and learning opportunities, Ontario students are put at risk and we fear that LGBTQ youth will face even more barriers to acceptance.”

The program is not free, the price for a several day program is $250, but it is worthwhile, especially considering the education our children are (not) receiving. If this program sounds like something you’d be interested in, please email owl@cuc.ca. OWL programs are available at many UU congregations from September through May and have age appropriate programs from kindergarten to adulthood.

Hopefully Ford will back down on his decision, especially faced with so much opposition but, until then, the Canadian Unitarian Council is there to fill the gap.

Colin and Kait at Niagara Falls

Colin and Kait. Happy, healthy, and educated

The good stuff…

Jeremy loves Minecraft and plays it regularly but zie never plays on servers. Zir favourite thing in Minecraft is designing houses; huge homes with floor to ceiling windows, giant kitchens, and roof top views of the ocean. People take great delight in destroying Jeremy’s houses when zie plays online, which is why zie plays single player on our computer. Now Jeremy belongs to a private server* made solely for trans youths and, for the first time, Jeremy and zir house have been safe.

I wasn't kidding when I said huge.

Jeremy’s house. I wasn’t kidding when I said it was huge.

kitchen

I think this is the smallest kitchen Jeremy’s made. Zie has at least a hundred mods downloaded to our desktop and zir kitchen usually has chandeliers. clocks, granite counter tops, polished wood tables, and double sinks. I’m guessing zir mods don’t work on the server. Zir second kitchen looked similar to this except it was underground.

ocean view

And, as always, zie has a gorgeous ocean view. Jeremy’s next development will be an ocean side pool.

town view

And zir view of the town, complete with not only the trans pride flag but a house with a pride flag window.

I am so glad Jeremy’s been able to join this server. Zie’s not only enjoying designing zir house, zie’s also been taking great pleasure in creating a shared mine and a chest full of freebies to give away to the other youths. Meanwhile I’m grateful to the person who put the time and effort into creating this server as it’s often Jeremy’s only social interaction.

This weekend was different though. This weekend Jeremy went to CLUUE, a Unitarian Universalist Youth event based around the murder mystery game Clue. Zie was overwhelmed at first as there were 51 youths (Jeremy was expecting around 10 to 15) but once the popcorn came out, zie relaxed and was fine. It helps that the UU gatherings ask for preferred pronouns and have multi-gender sleeping arrangements. Jeremy headed off with zir black sparkly pjs, a floral pillowcase and no worries.

And this Thursday is our monthly PFLAG meeting so zie’ll get to spend a full hour with other trans youths 🙂 I get to hang out with other parents too. Plus there’ll be pizza and pop which is a huge sell for a teenager.

I have no real news about my Dad. He was discharged from the hospital on Friday evening then was admitted again last night. The doctors are reasonably sure he has some sort of infection although multiple tests can’t find it. He’s on six different antibiotics ranging from broad spectrum ones to ones targeted specifically for things like lung infections and c diff (which thankfully came back negative). He is doing a lot better now and hopefully will continue to improve.

 

* This server is only available for youths whose parents belong to the Parents of Transgender Children support group. If you wish for your child to be a member of this server, you can request admittance once you belong to the parenting group. A link to the parenting group can be found on my resource page.

A family visit and weekend musings…

We had a family dinner today and both my Mom and I were panicking for different reasons. My Mom was worried because this was the first dinner since Emma moved out (after a deadline was set for her to leave) and she didn’t know if dinner would end up being awkward or tense. I was worried because my parents don’t know about Jeremy’s indefinite suspension from school and I couldn’t figure out a way to tell them. Jeremy wasn’t exactly a sweet and innocent victim to begin with and, once Jeremy’s panicked reason to refuse those ballet stretches was removed, zie comes across as a complete asshole.

I could already hear the conversation, starting with shock that zie didn’t just do the stretch because “it wasn’t going to kill him” then moving on to horror that zie argued with the principal. I know where Jeremy’s coming from because zie doesn’t sit alone with zir thoughts ever. I love going for long walks in the woods, with nothing but nature sounds and my own thoughts. Jeremy can’t handle a two minute wait for the bus on zir own without music or a video game. Twenty minutes to an hour of sitting in an office with nothing to do but flip through a magazine would have been torture. My parents’ reaction would have been to suck it up and deal because zie’s seventeen. I agree that Jeremy needs to learn ways of coping with zirself without panicking; I just don’t feel sucking up’s going to work well. Leaving school when feeling stressed was part of Jeremy’s safety plan last year but I know my parents would be on the “just suck it up” bandwagon there too. School’s not stressful… just deal.

This would end up as an hour of listening to how horrible Jeremy is and how zie’ll never have a job or any sort of normal life, which makes for an awful visit. So I decided it was not happening. Of course I screwed up dismally when I decided this because I forgot Jeremy was not involved in my internal frettings and conversation.

“Okay, so it didn’t happen,” I blurted. “No indefinite suspension… no leaving school.”

“Really?” Jeremy said hopefully. “You mean I can go back on Monday? It’s all done?”

Crap! Talk about feeling two centimeters tall.

“Oh sorry hon,” I explained. “I meant we aren’t telling Nana and Grandad about the suspension. As far as they know you’re still going to school and everything’s fine.”

“Oh,” came zir quiet reply.

I shrugged and gave Jeremy a half smile. “We’re already keeping a huge secret from them anyways. What’s one more?” Zie grinned back.

Mom was waiting at the front door, watching for us as we walked down the street. She had pop chilling in the fridge, a vegan casserole in the oven (alongside the meat one) and Jeremy’s favourite ice cream bars in the freezer. Dad reclined in the chair in the living room and greeted us as we walked inside. Emma and Mark arrived a short while later.

We had one brief mishap. Jeremy was chatting in the kitchen with my Mom when I heard her voice raise.

“…those sort of things are not talked about at school,” she explained. “It might be fine to talk about gender at church but school’s different. They have to be neutral and gender is simply not acceptable to discuss. The teachers shouldn’t have to deal with stuff like that…”

“They’re mandated by law to deal with gender issues,” I commented as I walked into the room. Jeremy stood silent. I figured zie’d probably brought up the topic to test the waters. It obviously hadn’t worked well.

“It’s something better kept private and not mentioned in school at all,” she retorted. “It’s not school appropriate.”

“Jeremy? Emma was looking for you. I think she had something to show you.” I hoped Emma would play along.

“Really?” Jeremy turned and hurried out. I followed.

Emma wasn’t downstairs at all, she’d gone to use the washroom. The poor kid opened the door to find both of us standing right there. Jeremy was all excited because zir sister had something to share while I was winking so quickly it probably looked like I was having some sort of seizure.

“Nana was talking about gender with Jeremy,” I quickly explained. “I said you had something to show zir.”

She stared at me with more than a little irritation. “I don’t have anything to show. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I know,” I hissed. “It was an excuse. Find something.”

“Maybe that box of electronics,” Jeremy said hopefully.

“But I don’t know where it is,” she wailed.

“It’s an excuse,” I stressed. “It doesn’t matter if you know where it is.” I finally saw the lightbulb turn on and they headed off to Emma’s old room.

The rest of the night went wonderfully. We chatted and laughed about a variety of subjects including a long discussion regarding a giant chicken mobile on a farm north of here.

“This dinner went so well,” my Mom said happily as we said our goodbyes. And it did.

I uploaded my pictures when we got home and shared a photo from our family dinner on Facebook. It’s one of the rare good shots of my mother. She has this unusual talent of looking just fine in the viewfinder then looking absolutely horrid in the photo. I’m talking sunken cheeks, half closed eyes, partially open mouth… you name it, it’s happening in the photo and it wasn’t happening half a second earlier. Most times when I share family photos they come with the warning of “my Mom doesn’t actually look like that.” This photo really does look like her. Then I showed Jeremy zir birthday scrapbook page. I used to scrapbook the day I took the pictures; right now I’m three months behind and haven’t printed out a page since February. There is a plus side to my huge whopping delay though.

“See, I used zir on your page,” I pointed out. Jeremy beamed then I closed my scrapbooking program so zie could have the desktop.

“So tomorrow I’m going to out you at church. Is there anything in particular that you want me to say?” I asked then watched as Jeremy nearly spat cereal across the living room.

This was a continuation of a conversation we’d had that afternoon… not something I’d suddenly thrown at zir. I offered to be the one to explain exactly what non-binary trans is then share Jeremy’s preferred pronouns and how to use them in a sentence… which means Jeremy should (hopefully) miss a good chunk of the questions. Zie only goes to the youth group and the occasional potluck so zie won’t be there. Plus we go to a welcoming UU congregation so, presumably, everyone there is likely to at least attempt to use the correct pronouns.

“I can’t think of anything,” Jeremy replied once zie’d swallowed zir cereal and was past the risk of choking. “I’m sure you’ll say everything.”

I stink at public speaking. I flipped on the dining room light then watched as Jeremy glared.

“I’m just getting some chocolate then I’ll turn out the lights so you can watch your video.”

“Can you get me some too?” zie asked hopefully.

“It’s dark chocolate,” I warned. Jeremy likes dark chocolate sometimes and hates it other times so a warning is necessary. “I got it from Lenny.”

“The other zir,” Jeremy said with a smile, which quickly widened. “The word zir sounds like an alien. A really super cool alien.”

Also, I don’t actually have a conclusion but I do have two photos I took last night when we walked over to our local greenspace in an attempt to see the Northern Lights. We live in an urban area and, despite the solar storms, were rated for a poor chance of viewing. Chances are the whitish film in the sky was simply clouds reflecting all the city lights but it was still neat. Enjoy 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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