Our 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.