Alberta

Dear Government of Alberta

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By Justin Wishart

At Faith Beyond Belief we want to model how Christians can winsomely engage the public, including government officials. This is one letter that a concerned Christian parent wrote to a public official about the issue of transgenderism.

I am a proud father of two wonderful daughters. As their father, I take seriously the duty to protect and care for them. To me, their lives and well-being are more important to me than my own. Not only is this true emotionally, but I believe God, the maker of all things, gave me these daughters specifically with the mandate that I should love and protect them. This is as great an expression of my religious convictions as there is. In short, I love and care for them at a much deeper level than you are capable of.

This is the motivation behind my open letter. You have undermined the safety and dignity of my daughters with the adoption of the "Guidelines for Best Practices" document. Before I explain why this is so, I would like to explain why I created this open letter. I sent a letter to the Education Minister, David Eggen (NDP), and my MLA, Prasad Panda (Wildrose). Mr. Eggen replied with what appeared to be a generic form letter. It had the appearance of something sent any parent who may express some concern for these guidelines. The reply did not address even one of my concerns, not one. It seems clear that the Education Minister did not read what I sent and, judging by the response, they have not officially addressed the problems I see. Mr. Panda, as an MLA for the opposition party, offered me encouragement to make my issues known. I agree with Mr. Panda (thank you for actually addressing the concerns I raised) and this is the reason for this letter. When the safety of my children are at stake and my concerns are ignored, I am left with only two options: make this a public matter or remain quiet. My love for my daughters will not allow me to remain quiet.

The Best Practices document states that "strategies should be in place to ensure all areas of the school are safe for all students, all of the time." Yet, it is the document itself that undermines this goal. The primary issue I have is how the schools identify a transgendered person: "Self-identification is the sole measure of an individual's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression." This clearly states that there are no other criteria which override a simple claim. No test, no medical evidence, nothing to confirm a person's claim. I understand why this is, as there is nothing that can possibly verify someone being transgendered. The document uses the term "evidence-based" throughout, but at the most basic level of this discussion, there is no "evidence-based" data for a subjective claim to transgenderism. It follows that anyone can make the claim, for any reason, and the school would simply accept it.

Put aside your political correctness for just a moment and think about that. One could claim transgenderism because the person feels like a girl trapped in a boy's body. Yet, another person could claim the same thing just because they want to look at naked girls. According to the Best Practices document, there is absolutely no way to tell one from the other. My daughters become potential victims, over and over again, and the school isn't allowed to stop it. This will allow a boy with sexual issues into my girl's washroom since students "are able to access washrooms that are congruent with their gender identity." This potential victimization of my daughters is not some vague theory. At the University of Toronto, they had to revise their inclusive washroom policy because of voyeurism. Two people were seen recording their victims as they used the washroom. How many more people were victimized this way without their knowledge? What would be different here?

Unfortunately, it gets worse. Not only should these false claimers be allowed into the washrooms, but also in change-rooms. "Students with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions have a right to accommodation when it comes to the use of washroom and change-room facilities that are congruent with their gender identity." How easy would it be for a boy to sneak a camera into a change-room because they falsely claim to be transgendered? Not only would you be allowing such a person to lewdly view my daughters, you set up a very real possibility of them being victimized on the Internet. This also applies to sport teams, as it states, "if sports teams are divided by gender, students are given the opportunity to participate on the team that reflects their gender identity and expression." As a former wrestler, I shudder at the thought of girls being forced to wrestle with boys who falsely claim transgenderism. This easily opens girls up to be molested by such people; all with the school's approval. Given these guidelines, how could you stop it? This does not even include the real possibility of an unfair physical disadvantage given to my daughters, and can discourage female participation in sports.

Yet, it even gets worse. This doesn't merely apply to students, but to adults as well. "Family members are able to access washrooms that are congruent with their gender identity." When pedophiles are given a ready excuse to be somewhere they should not be, this will merely embolden them. It is not outside the realm of possibility that a parent who is a pedophile slipping into the girl's washroom where my daughter is. There he will have uninhibited access to her. If a teacher happens to walk in before anything happened, the pedophile would simply claim transgenderism. The teacher becomes powerless to do anything at this point. Sure, she can wait around until he leaves, but the pedophile could simply attend the next function and try again until he is successful. Even if a "legitimate" transgender physical man walks into the washroom, my daughters could feel vulnerable and more than a bit frightened. This, then, undermines her sense of security. Things like this have happened. Christopher Hambrook, self-identifying as Jessica, was granted access to a woman's shelter where he sexually assaulted at least two women in Ontario. Hambrook had previous convictions including a sexual assault of a five-year-old girl and raping a 27-year-old woman. The proposed guidelines found within this document are similar to the Ontario laws which allowed Hambrook access to the vulnerable women. What's to prevent a "family member" from doing the same thing here?

Then, the Best Guidelines policy further undermines the dignity of my daughters. If they feel threatened or insecure, whether it is due to a real or perceived threat, they are shamed if they bring it up. "A student who objects to sharing a washroom or change-room with a student who is trans or gender-diverse is offered an alternative facility." It is my daughters who get paraded around the school, thus showing everyone how "intolerant" they are. This will marginalize them and open them up to ridicule. Not only does the policy undermine the safety and security of my daughters, they are publicly exposed and shamed if they decide not to be a victim.

I know it must be difficult for a student to feel that their physical sex doesn't match their internal sex. Growing up can be confusing enough without throwing something like this into the mix. I also, on a certain level, understand the government's desire to offer help to such students in this manner. I also find no solid evidence that this would even be helpful to children who claim transgenderism. What if these children experience gender dysphoria? Could these guidelines end up harming children by affirming their dysphoria?

I also demand, yes demand, that my daughters are not sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. To be clear, I do not think that every person, or even most people, who claim to be transgendered are predators. But, to be even more clear, predators will use the ideas expressed in these guidelines to help them catch their prey. It may not happen right away, but we can see that these things are happening in other jurisdictions. Let's have an open-minded and inclusive conversation about this, not the narrow-minded, politically-correct, and totalitarian approach these guidelines propose. The lives and well-being of my daughters depend on it.

Sincerely,

My daughters' father,

Justin Wishart

Cutting Through the Rhetoric on Election Day

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This post is by guest blogger Paul Buller. Though FBB doesn't take any partisan stands, what Paul writes is an important part of understanding what we should think about as Christian voters.

As anybody in Faith Beyond Belief can tell you, Christianity is far more than just an internal set of beliefs about the hereafter. It is an all-encompassing worldview that informs and clarifies every aspect of life. One area of life about which Christianity has much to say is the area of government, but even with respect to this domain of human activity, Christians can vary widely in their perspectives. What exactly is the "Christian" view on various political issues? Self-proclaimed Christians spread themselves right across the political spectrum.

Politics has been on the radar for many Canadians lately, with the upset victory of the NDP in Alberta as well as the impending federal election looking to be a game-changer. As competing political philosophies spar for our vote, wouldn't it be nice to cut through all the rhetoric, philosophizing and divergent theological interpretations of "How would Jesus vote?" and just consider a more basic question: which political philosophies actually work and which don't? Which political policies actually have a track record of making life better for people, and which have a track record of making life worse?

By knehcsg (Ontario Election  Uploaded by Skeezix1000) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsTo this end, I have penned a short book titled For the Love of Alberta. In this book I present a very brief and introductory case to the effect that left-leaning political philosophy makes promises that are both grander and more compassionate than right-leaning policies, but, when implemented, these policies not only fail to deliver their promises, but actually end up making life worse for people. Although policies from the right end of the political spectrum don't sound nearly as compassionate or concerned for the "little guy" as policies from the left end of the political spectrum, they end up having a significantly more positive effect when implemented than do policies originating from the left. Right-leaning policies are actually much better for the little guy, contra the caricatures that often come from the political left.

To make my case I document the following:

  1. Canadians are more likely to move out of a "progressive" province than move into one. This is especially clear when we consider the history of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
  2. Provinces with progressive tax policies (higher taxes on the wealthy, lower on the poor) have more people in, or near, poverty and they also have a lower median income for all citizens.
  3. Higher taxes on corporations produce much the same results as described above.
  4. Increasing the minimum wage also has much the same impact; people tend to leave the province, earn less if they stay, and are flirting with poverty.
  5. The "gold standard" family structure is (and always has been) children being raised by their biological parents, who are in a life-long, stable, married relationship. Deviate from this standard and not only do children suffer, but so do the adults who experiment with alternative family structures.
  6. As evidence of the previous point, communities in Calgary with a higher proportion of so-called "traditional" families have lower crime, higher education, and less unemployment.

If you are looking for a quick read to wrap your mind around why right-leaning policy has a better track record (despite sounding less compassionate than the alternative), or if you would like some kind of resource you can share with your left-leaning friends, perhaps For the Love of Alberta could be such a resource. I have made the book available for free as a PDF at my website, www.ForTheLoveOfAlberta.ca, or you can buy a hard copy if (like me) you prefer something tangible in your hands.