Wednesday, January 12, 2011

ebooks & public libraries

Can i be a complete nerd and say how much i love borrowing ebooks from the Calgary Public Library? Oh it feels like -30 degrees? No problem - download a book and keep it for 21 days. Just finished Fire by Kristin Cashore that way (Cashore is a fabulous young adult fantasy writer, btw). The ebook service has been around for a little while now, but i only just got around to trying it out.

If only the university's electronic books were this simple & convenient. Ebrary has a great selection of books, but the interface is clumsy and tends to freeze, and the books can't be downloaded, which means that it's almost impossible to actually use for academic purposes (oh, you want to access page 142? well too bad the "go to page" function doesn't work reliably. read a book straight through? no way! it'll freeze on page 30 and when you reload you're back to page one...).

Anyways, ebooks from public libraries are great. Sure beats illegal downloading, not that i would do such a thing...

Monday, January 10, 2011

A letter to the Halton Catholic District School Board

In response to their recent ban on Gay-Straight Alliances.


As a former student of St. Luke's Elementary School and St. Thomas Aquinas High School, I need to tell you how very disappointed I am that you have decided to ban Gay-Straight Alliances. I was bullied in both of these schools because students interpreted my appearance as queer. I was called "fag" and "lesbo." I was ostracized and harassed. And I did not feel that my Catholic teachers, some of whom compared homosexuality to bestiality and bigamy, would be empathetic to my situation. So I endured the taunting, the shoving, and the alienation as best I could, and mostly in silence. I was uncomfortable with sexuality in general, as many young people are, and was worried that if I told adults why I was being bullied that they would side with the bullies. Gay-Straight Alliances are a tool to tell students that they matter regardless of sexuality. They provide support to students who might be targeted because of their sexuality, or because of how others perceive their sexuality. Banning these Alliances will not change Gay students into Straight students, but it sends the message that Gay bashing and harassment are not important issues to the members of the Halton Catholic District School Board, and further disenfranchises youth already dealing with the difficulties of school environments. In fact, bullies might interpret the ban as condoning the actions they take in an attempt to police the gender expression and sexuality of their peers.

You are failing the LGBTQ youth within your school board. And there are LGBTQ youth within your school board, there is no question about that. Children do not choose where they go to school; their parents do. This is not about sexuality or Catholocism, it is about creating an environment where all students can be safe. More than safe: every child who goes to school should feel welcome. The students who saw your hateful ban, and the disgusting phrasing with which it was presenting, will continue to conflate homosexuality with homosexual people. They will continue to think that it's okay to hurt another person because they are Gay, and you are telling them that Gay means less-than.

Christ said "Love thy neighbour," and "Judge not lest ye be judged." Please overturn your ban on Gay-Straight Alliances. Take a stand against bullying and intolerance, a stand for compassion and support of students.


Claire Lacey