When I heard about the whole controversy on Quebec’s reasonable accommodation forum, a story came to mind.
Many years ago in my French class, my teacher, who wore midriffs, told us to pick a very controversial topic and present the points of both sides. At first she gave us some topics to choose from, racism was one of them. “I don’t want to hear the points supporting racism!” said this one girl. And everyone agreed.
“Okay, fine you can chose your own topic”, she said.
Everyone tried to steer away from controversy, including myself. I chose to talk about censorship in music, a guy from Alberta talked about the NHL, but Song decided to talk about gay people. Song was new to Canada from Eastern Asia. He was quiet all year and had an awkward composure, but now he got up in front of his class to present his argument against the gays. According to him, it wasn’t natural to be gay, that it was wrong.
Big mistake. Immediately everyone just shot at him. “what do you mean?” said one girl
“Oh my god, he did not just say that,” a girl beside me said. Everyone else continued to yell at him, in English.
The only person that I thought would have said something was the dyke, but she sat quietly. I must say it was a very awkward moment.
Song just left the class and never returned.
This is what kind of bothered me. Song, probably in his mid 30’s, had recently moved to Canada. He, like a lot of immigrants, was most likely raised with a traditional upbringing, and in a culture that rejects homosexuality. How could we expect Song to come here and right away erase his values and adopt ours? I don’t think Song will join a hate group, or beat up someone because he is gay. He seems pretty peaceful, but he just doesn’t think being gay is right. Are we going to shout at him so he can think otherwise? Are we going to cast him away until he agrees with everyone else?
Yelling, intimidating, and isolating someone isn’t the way to reason with their beliefs.
Instead of shouting at him that day, I wish we just reasoned with him. It was a rare opportunity to confront his beliefs and explain that its not up to us to decide what’s natural for others, and that this was a multi cultural society that accepts everyone despite differences.
Song was one of few newcomers who openly spoke up about his beliefs and he was not even tolerated, let alone being accommodated.
Anyway, Song never showed up to class again.