Get REAL visits Arthur Voaden and gets a bold question from a student with an amazing response

Arthur VOur first trip to Sarnia was a great success! The kids were great and had some really stimulating conversation. The second presentation in particular stood out. We had a student put up her hand and say something along the lines of the following:

“I am very pro-gay, and I have gay friends, but I do not believe that sex – the actual act itself – between two people of the same gender is natural and normal.”

It was a great moment for a lot of reasons. First of all, I have to give kudos to this student for putting up her hand and making a comment – that in itself is a difficult thing to do. But it was a great moment for what happened immediately after. About 20 kids (in an assembly of I’d say roughly 60 or so students) put up their hands, wanting to speak up and respond to their classmate. As a rule, we want our presentations to be from the heart, open, and non-intimidating. We want our presentations to foster discussion among students about these issues. At the same time, we aren’t there to give a sex-ed presentation.

So Zoe and I just did our best to answer calmly and methodically – doing all we could not to make the student in question feel bad or feel stupid; instead we tried to ask the question of “What is normal?” and the fact that society’s ‘norms’ change drastically from month to month, year to year, decade to decade, century to century. But the students who spoke out had terrific and truly insightful things to say. I was blown away by the thoughtfulness of the responses, which were made all the more powerful because they were coming from them and not us. Because that’s what we want. It was a truly great moment, and it brought to the forefront the students who were eager to speak up and share their ideas about equality. It was a truly fantastic moment, and one I (Chris) was proud to be a part of. Big thanks to Zoe for making the 3 + hour trek with me, and to the welcoming and open-minded staff and students from Arthur Voaden. What a phenomenal experience. We hope to be back soon.

-Chris

Zoe with some of the students after the presentation!

Zoe with some of the students after the presentation!

 

Get REAL & Canadian University College

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Sapphire (top left, on the right) and Chantal (top left, on the left); the pins we sent over to them; and a shot of CUC.

The coolest part about Get REAL is the support that trickles down from completely unexpected places. A little while back we got an email from Sapphire Woods saying she wanted to do a piece on us for her newspaper at Canadian University College, in Lacombe, Alberta. Already we were thinking: yes, and what a phenomenal name. Then she went on to say that her school was quite religious and that there was the potential for controversy following the article. By now, we were thinking: YES, WHEN can we do this? Tomorrow? Today? We were very excited. And this has since become one of the coolest partnerships Get REAL has developed so far.

Sapphire article cropped

Regarding a controversy, Sapphire was right. (This comes as no surprise, as she is one of the sharpest young activists we’ve ever spoken to). The “hot topic” of LGBT inclusivity/homophobia had not been broached in such a way before, and Sapphire’s article was definitely in support of a change in the atmosphere at CUC. BUT we are happy to report that since Sapphire has begun working with us and with CUC, the college has seen students and professors speak out in support, and has developed – for the first time ever – three safe spaces for open discussion concerning things such as orientation, sexuality, and how that all fits in with religion! We could not be happier with how things are going over there. The next step is a speaker series, which she hopes will foster and open up greater discussion of these issues. Sapphire is a brave and intelligent individual who doesn’t mind causing a bit of a stir. And we love her for that! We cannot wait to see what she comes up with next.