Steinbach-area mom threatened after request for more LGBT openness in school

A Steinbach-area mom says she is shocked by the extreme reactions to her request for more openness to LGBTQ issues in the classroom.

Michelle McHale asked Hanover School Division to allow conversations about LGBT issues in class

Michelle McHale made a request to the Hanover School Division to be more open and inclusive in its classroom conversations around families. (Courtesy Michelle McHale)

A mother in the Steinbach area is dealing with backlash after she asked for same-sex relationships to be part of the school's lessons around family diversity. CBC is not naming the town where she lives to protect the identity of her child.

Last week Michelle McHale made a request to the Hanover School Division board of trustees that it abandon rules preventing teachers in grades five to eight from talking about homosexuality in the classroom.

Over the weekend McHale received messages of support from the community, but others have been threatening.

"I knew there would be backlash. I am perhaps surprised how impassioned people got, and so soon," said McHale.

The most shocking of the online comments came from Facebook where one person posted "Can we just kill her please?"

McHale reported the comment to police, but said she feels the risk to her is low because the man who posted it lives in the United States. However, other negative online comments are coming from her community, she said.

"There are some arguments being put forward that are completely absurd, like that somehow [talking about] same-sex relationships, sexual orientation or identity will open the floodgates for pedophilia or bestiality to be discussed in schools too," said McHale.

Focusing on the positive

Other online comments have been hurtful and false, but McHale said she is focusing on the positive.

"There have been so many in support of this. One beautifully diverse group from rural [Manitoba] sent the most beautiful picture and stated their support. I have received support from people across the country," she said.

A community member near Steinbach posted an online photo that depicts families that stand in solidarity with Michelle McHale. The mom wants the Hanover School Division to remove policies that prevent teachers from talking about families with same-sex parents in the classroom. (Ken McDonald)

Personal messages have also been uplifting, said McHale.

Michelle McHale said she is receiving messages of support from around the world. (Courtesy of Michelle McHale)

Several church leaders in the area have also reached out to her and offered their support, she said.

"Overall, people are coming forward with stories of struggle in the school system as people who identify as LGBTTQ*," said McHale.

"They feel hopeful that the school environments can be changed and that we will have safer spaces for kids."

In an email to CBC Manitoba, Hanover School Division said it is considering McHale's request but declined to provide further information at this time.

CBC News