Combat discrimination by adding a unit about the negative impact of hate speech and inequality in modern Canadian society to the Planning 10 curriculum

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Combat discrimination by adding a unit about the negative impact of hate speech and inequality in modern Canadian society to the Planning 10 curriculum

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    My name is Kelsey Carlson, and I am a Grade 12 student at Sardis Secondary School in Chilliwack, BC. As a student of the public school system for the past thirteen years, I have noticed a deplorable and ignominious habit of discrimination and prejudice among my fellow students. This discrimination usually takes the form of slurs or other forms of verbal abuse, and is targeted towards individuals who are marginalized by their ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, income level, level of physical and cognitive ability, and/or mental illness.

    These grossly insensitive slurs, typically thrown around during casual conversations or shouted down the hallways without context, are a product of our society’s lack of awareness about modern-day discrimination. Our provincial school system does an excellent job of educating students about injustices in our past, but many societal barriers which block modern-day Canada from achieving equality remain ignored. Thus, many people tend to imagine that issues such as racism and sexism were permanently eradicated in the 1960’s. Although many studies have displayed the implicit discrimination which minorities face, many still believe that the modern world is one in which all humans are treated equally. This conception leads certain people to use slurs and propagate harmful stereotypes as they believe that an equal society is one in which such speech no longer has negative connotation.

    Unfortunately, regardless of the speaker’s intentions, the use of hate speech has many detrimental effects on the school environment and well-being of students. When a student encounters the use a slur or stereotype which targets part of their identity, this may cause them to feel threatened and unaccepted by their peers. I can speak from personal experience as a female, knowing how intimidated I feel when I hear my peers cultivate hideous gender stereotypes and utter phrases which promote rape culture. The consequences of this hate speech in schools can be extremely severe at times. For example, I am aware of cases in which LGBTQIA+ students whom I have known for years have felt so threatened by the hateful comments of their peers that they are no longer able to attend public school. Additionally, when British Columbian teen Amanda Todd was driven to suicide in 2012, one of the factors which influenced the tragedy was the verbal abuse and discrimination of which she was a victim. This blatant use of hate speech by youth has destructive effects on minorities, promoting feelings of fear and intolerance, and causing some youth to limit their activities so they may avoid verbal abuse, or even (in severe cases) to end their own lives.

    I am proposing a solution to the problematic use of harmful, prejudicial stereotypes and slurs. A unit concerned with awareness of the negative impact of hate speech and the presence of inequality in modern Canadian society could be added to the current Planning 10 curriculum. Through this mandatory course, all British Columbian students would be required to learn of the repercussions which ensue when harmful stereotypes and slurs are used. This program may cause a student to realize that a stereotype which he or she thought to be funny is actually a display of intolerance. Such a realization may influence a student’s decision to refrain from using such language in favour of creating a more accepting school environment. This curriculum change could have much more impact than the creation of an elective on this topic, for which the majority of interested students would already understand the presence of prejudice in modern society. I would greatly appreciate your support in this campaign so that the youth of our province may be able to learn and live in a safer, more accepting environment, regardless of their background.



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