My letter to the editors of the Carillon and the Free Press – Bill 18 meeting

Well, I did it.  I joined the cacophony.

I submitted the following to both the Carillon and the Free Press.

My hope is that as we hold diverse opinions on diverse issues, that we can work together to create safe spaces, stop bullying, and work to keep kids alive.

Sometimes internet comments and dialogues are quite unhelpful, but if you want to have a conversation with me, I’ll pick up the tab.



Dear Editor,

I attended the meeting on Bill 18 on Sunday.

We were told it wasn’t a political meeting, despite my invitation coming to me on official MLA letterhead.

We were told it was a spiritual meeting, even though the three MLAs in attendance received two rounds of applause before Jesus did.

And while the language of the bill is an important issue, I highly doubt that 1200 people showed up to discuss the definition of bullying.  I’d venture to say that most of the people in attendance were there to defend their religious freedom.

But what are we defending?  Bill 18 states that schools must accommodate students who wish to promote anti-racism, gender equity, the removal of barriers for people with disabilities.  Surely we aren’t defending our right to be racist, sexist, or not have wheelchair ramps, right?

I think the crux of why 1200 people showed up is Bill 18’s specific wording about promoting “the awareness and understanding of, and respect for, people of all sexual orientations and gender identities” and student led Gay Straight Alliances.

This is within our rights.   We’re allowed to disagree with government legislation.   I just wish we could call a spade a spade.

And as we were encouraged to pray for religious freedom, I added one item to my prayers that wasn’t mentioned.

20-30% of teenagers who identify themselves as Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered/Questioning (GLBTQ) have attempted suicide.  The suicide rate of GLBTQ teenagers is 4-5 times the national average.  And those numbers go up in communities where GLBTQ kids don’t feel supported.

So in addition to praying for religious freedom, I also prayed that we could work together to keep kids alive.  Surely the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

Kyle Penner

Steinbach, MB


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