Not Endorsing Polygamy

Recently, the Toronto District School Board came under fire for posters in their schools intended to promote “Safe and Positive Spaces”. The posters, among other combinations,¬†include a heart that contains three stick figures–one male and two females. The board says this was to indicate that one person may be attracted to others of more than one gender, which makes sense. What got them into trouble is that the happy threesome was interpreted as being an endorsement of polygamy.

Perhaps it should not be surprising that the image of three stick figures within a heart leads directly to the concept of polygamy, rather than polyamory, or even someone casually dating males and females. It is certainly a reflection of the way mainstream society thinks about those who engage in relationships with more than one person at a time. The recent mainstream media attention¬†paid to polyamory should help to slowly shift this view, but it will be a slow process, and a significant amount of time until polygamy isn’t the only alternative lifestyle mentioned in this kind of controversy.

The most fascinating part of this story is that in general, people understand and accept that an individual may be bisexual, and yet their default assumption is that a bisexual person will repress their attraction to all but one gender. That assumption is so strong that the only possibility people can imagine beyond such repression is polygamy. The press coverage, and people’s thought processes, don’t even explore the absurdity of someone having to live in such a repressed state, and what alternatives, beyond polygamy, might be possible.

It’s a shame that the school board chose to simply say they were not endorsing polygamy, rather than using this as an opportunity to raise awareness of other alternatives, such as polyamory.