Saturday, 7 July 2012

Bill 13: The Accepting Schools Act: Some implementation ideas.

Bill 13: The Accepting Schools Act. The implementation stage. Some experiences are offered to guide the schools.

by Tom Thorne
About a month ago I made some comments about the Bill 13: The Accepting Schools Act and how I thought it was more political correctness whose main purpose would be the social engineering of the Ontario school system. 
Yesterday we had a story in our local paper about a transgendered boy who was voted by the student body of a high school  to be Prom Queen at their graduation dance. I always respect the democracy of a secret ballot but these student voters have established that “Queen” is now a genderless word. 
This story is a round of potential change for our small, usually conservative, Eastern Ontario city. There were other candidates for the role of Prom Queen and they all identified with the female gender. I don’t know whether someone ran for Prom Queen who appears to be male, ( the winner was dressed as a girl) but that would have been OK too as these students neuter the English language by their politically correct act.
This process was of course endorsed by the school administration, who are now subject to the more stringent aspects of The Accepting Schools Act. What I find unnerving about this situation is the very public displays of sexual orientation. It smacks of an agenda or the effects of politically correct propaganda on our society. If it served some useful purpose or promoted some talent of some kind I could see it. Unfortunately this act is more form than substance. It looks good and I’m sure bullying will now evaporate as a result.
There has to be some people in that school who find this exercise in social engineering troublesome. However, they are silenced. I am not silent about this. Surely a Prom Queen is female and a Prom King, if we must have equity and this kind of beauty pageant  ethos in our schools, is male? If we neutered the language to Prom First Choice Person or Prom Royal Person then we would certainly get no flack from me even if it does take the guts out of the language. But there must be females who find offense as Queen is claimed by all genders or those who claim transgender.
However, the real reason for calling this boy a Prom Queen is to make the point that he can choose to be a Queen or a King or simply a Royal Person. He chose to run for Prom Queen and that is to make a statement and promote a point of view.
Jump back in time with me to my first job after graduating from Ryerson University. I was hired as a promotions officer by the professional Theatre Toronto troupe for their 1969 season at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. This theatre company came together for the Winter-Spring and was made up of notables from the London West End and our own Stratford Shakespearean Festival.
Very quickly a group of technical people arrived to start work on our five productions. Some were Canadian and others were imported from London  because of their skills. One such person was a transgendered person who some days would be Clarissa and on other days would be Clarence.
Clarence-Clarissa was a skillful costumer. He/she could take some tacky cheap fabric or burlap and transform it into glorious brocades and patterned cloth that he/she built into majestic 17th Century and mediaeval costumes. He/she was simply brilliant and very cost effective to the production’s bottom line. 
When Clarisa was present we were treated to an acid witted patter that would have made Mae West blush. When Clarence appeared, usually every other day or so, we had a completely different personality who was equally as witty as Clarisa but in a less camp way commenting in detail about the complete lack of decent restaurants in Toronto at that time or how closeted the gay scene was in the 1960’s. 
I thought he/she’s talents were worthy of a feature story and so I went to the Toronto Telegram (now defunct) to get a story done. They wanted to do it but I had a dilemma who should be interviewed Clarisa or Clarence. My personal choice was Clarence who although over the top, was much more measured than Clarissa.
The writer of the story for the Telegram followed this dual personality transgendered talent for several days buying fabric, with Clarissa, painting brocades on burlap with Clarence and watching costume calls as these brilliant costumes were tried out on actors and on set by either Clarissa or Clarence. Everyone in the company treated each personality with equity and respect. 
The writer of the feature piece did his story and what is interesting is he focused not on the over the top flamboyance of Clarissa / Clarence but on the incredible quality of his/her’s work. The telegram chose to use only photos of Clarence who was the more in the background personality of the two as he said “to let the work show rather than the hyperactive diva who created it.”
The professional side of Clarissa understood the Telegram’s writer’s choice with this comment: “Oh Dahlings, Toronto, bless its little backwoods heart, is not ready for Clarissa yet...dear Clarence was the right choice for those pictures...he’s such a dear boy.”
I genuinely liked both of these incredibly talented sides of one person. We laughed continually and we were better for it.  Some years later when on business in London for TVOntario I had lunch with this wonderful dual personality remembering Theatre Toronto and catching up on Clarissa/Clarence’s budding feature film work. I must say when Clarissa appeared for lunch it made for a much more entertaining time than the more laid back Clarence. 
I wonder whether the young Prom Queen has the right stuff to really be a trouble free transgendered person and develop into a talented respected professional like Clarissa/Clarence? That’s where the rubber hits the road. Clarissa/Clarence by the way was not British. He/she came from a tiny town in Nova Scotia and I don’t think he/she was ever a Prom Queen although he/she would find it more amusing than making a politically correct statement about it.
© Copyright 2012, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved.