Parents, staff divided over diversity film at N.S. school
A week that was meant to celebrate family diversity at Astral Drive Elementary School in Cole Harbour, N.S. has instead divided parents, staff and students at the school.
An educational video that was to be shown at an assembly as a lesson in diversity was pulled and the decision not to show it has caused division at the school.
The film in question is a 35-minute award-winning documentary mean to help children in kindergarten through Grade 8 to understand how families are different today.
The video takes a modern look at how today's families deal with issues such as same-sex relationships, divorce, adoption and substance abuse.
"Kids need to be educated, learn about families with difference and learn to accept all those differences," says Family Diversity Committee member Fran Steer, who recommended the video.
The film was supposed to be featured as part of the school's first ever Family Diversity Week but it was pulled after the principal and other staff screened it, deeming aspects of the film not appropriate to show at an assembly for all grades.
Students at the school range in age from five to 12 years old.
"Some of the subjects might have been a little touchy for some of the students in the school, because their parents are going through divorce and to expose it to them in a film would probably bring up emotions they don't need to feel at the time," says parent Jodie Usher.
"I looked at the trailers and I thought it was very well presented," says parent Sarah Ronahan. "I was completely open to the idea and I am quite disappointed the school did not show the video."
"I don't mind them showing the video, but I'd like to see it first so I know what my kids are seeing, so I can have the choice to say ‘yes they can watch it,' or ‘no they can't," says parent Tracy Gough.
Staff are divided on the issue too. One teacher went so far as to keep her class from taking part in the assembly.
Steer says it's unfortunate the video wasn't shown because she knows the importance of diversity within her own family, which includes her same-sex partner and their five children.
"I think all in all, we got a lot of positive out of this," she says. "We got a lot of education for the children, but I think we need a little education for some of the adults."
The principal at the school says the issue has since been dealt with, but wouldn't go into details. She also says another reason the video wasn't shown was due to copyright issues, but she admits that was an afterthought. The decision to pull the video was made before the copyright issue came up.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kelland Sundahl