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Play teaches students about gender identity

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls staged at Claude E. Garton School and offers a chance for students to understand a bit more about the transgender community.
Samson Brown
Samson Brown as Fin/Fiona in the play Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, staged by the Roseneath Theatre at Claude E. Garton School on Thursday, April 12, 2018. (Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY – Kal Hardy thinks it’s important for students to learn at a young age that not everyone is the same.

That way, when they get older, those differences won’t seem like a big deal.

Kal, a 13-year-old member of the Gay Straight Alliance at Claude E. Garton Public School, hopes watching the traveling play Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, the story of a young girl named Fiona, who at nine comes out as boy called Fin, is a powerful learning opportunity for students at the school.

“More and more kids, at a younger age, are finding out that they relate to certain groups, like trans or being gay. I think it’s important to expose (others) to it early so they don’t become scared of it or not understanding of it,” the Grade 8 student said on Thursday.

“I think the play, it just kind of opens up that there are different ways you can feel comfortable with yourself. You can identify yourself as trans, you can identify yourself as whatever you want, whatever you feel comfortable as. And you don’t have to go by society’s rules.”

Kal said it’s a subject that’s become more open than it once was.

“It used to be not discussed at all,” Kal said. “But now, with more media and stuff, people are understanding about it, or at least finding out about it and trying to understand if they want to,” Kal said, adding people often don’t accept the unknown.

“It’s new to them and they don’t know how to react to it.”

Teacher Tonya Gouthro helped start the Gay Straight Alliance last fall and said it was borne out of the direct need of the students at the Current River school.

She said she has several students in her classes that identify with the LGBTQ community and needed a safe place to talk, share, vent and question.

The play, put on by the Roeneath Theatre, said it chance to put the face of the LGBTQ community in front of students, help LGBTQ students understand they’re just like everyone else.

“I love the fact that these students today in our gym are getting to see themselves represented in a play,” Gouthro said.

For the non-LGBTQ students, it’s a chance to gain knowledge, acceptance and education.

“People are really afraid to ask questions. I had a student in my class yesterday ask about terminology and what was appropriate and what wasn’t appropriate and I had to congratulate him for asking the question,” she said.

“Just in doing so you put yourself in a vulnerable place. Talking openly about issues and providing a safe place for people to talk I think is wonderful.”

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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