By Patrick B. Craine
HAMILTON, Ontario, February 15, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Public school children in Hamilton, Ontario will not be permitted to withdraw from classes that promote homosexuality, according to the Hamilton Mountain News. At the same time, according to a leaked document obtained by a local journalist, teachers are being instructed to tell parents who object to the curriculum that “this is not about parent rights.”
At the end of January, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) hosted a professional development day dedicated to “equity” training, where they distributed a sheet to teachers with “quick responses” they can offer to parents who object to the school board's “anti-homophobia” curriculum.
That document was obtained by journalist Mark Cripps, and posted on the website of the Hamilton Mountain News. Cripps observes that the handout “basically indicates parents have no rights when it comes to their child’s education at the HWDSB.”
In addition, Cripps reports that, “The board says no child will be excused from the class when topics of homosexuality are brought into the classroom.”
The school board is developing a new equity policy, as required of all boards under the Ontario Ministry of Education's equity strategy, announced last year. Among other things, the Ministry is requiring all boards, Catholic and public, to develop a plan for combating “homophobia.”
The sheet given to the HWDSB teachers specifies that teachers do not “condone” the removal of children from classes that deal with homosexuality. If told, “This is against our rights as parents to teach our own set of family values,” the board suggests teachers offer the following responses:
- “As teachers, we do not condone children being removed from our classes when we teach about Aboriginal People, people of color, people with disabilities or gays and lesbians.
- “You can teach your child your own values at home. Public schools teach everyone about respecting diversity and valuing everyone.
- “This is not about parent rights. Children have the right to an inclusive education free from discrimination.”
Jim Enos, President of the Hamilton-Wentworth Family Action Council (HWFAC), told LifeSiteNews (LSN) that he was struck by “the obvious point that parents who object [to the homosexuality curriculum] will be ignored, and that the schools educate your children in their ideology whether you like it or not.”
Since HWFAC was founded 14 years ago, they have fought hard with the school board to ensure that Judeo-Christian values are respected. On this latest initiative, Enos says that the school board's response has been to say, “'You can do what you want at home, we understand, but when you get to school, different matter.' In other words, they're saying that schools have priority rights in the education of children.
“That's wrong,” he insisted. “We are the educators of the children. [Schools] are an extension of us, we're not an extension of them.”
In addition to the examples above, teachers are advised to respond to the objection by parents that the homosexuality curriculum is “recruitment or teaching about sex!”, by saying that high school students need “accurate information about relationships and safe sex.” If parents insist that their child is too young for the subject matter, the teachers are to tell them that it is the teacher's job “to teach accurate, up-to-date information to every child, including yours.”
Enos says that requiring children to participate in the “anti-homophobia” classes is “forced indoctrination.” While the school board claims to provide “accurate information,” Enos pointed out that the program is “indoctrination because they won't give both sides of the story. They only give good news about [homosexuality].”
Enos sat on the school board's Sexual Orientation Steering Committee for two years. He explained that he had attempted to make a presentation to the Committee on the negative health effects of homosexuality, as documented by the Ontario Ministry of Health. The Committee would only allow him to distribute a handout, he said, and dismissed his concerns.
“We won't have any negative bias, just positive bias,” they told him, he said.
Journalist Mark Cripps also wrote that while he disagrees with the view that homosexuality is a sin, he questions the board's disregard for parents who hold that view. “Does the board believe faith has no value in its schools?” he asks. “Does the board really support the principle that parents have no rights over their child’s education?”
“Right or wrong, rejecting the dogma of specific faiths doesn't seem very inclusive,” he concludes.
John Malloy, Director of Education
Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
100 Main St. West
P.O. Box 2558
Hamilton, ON L8N 3L1
Phone: (905) 527-5092 ext.2297
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (through Executive Assistant)
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Ontario Gov't Initiative Would Force Catholic Schools to Violate Church Teaching
Ontario Gvmt Won’t Say Whether Catholic Schools Can Teach Beliefs on Homosexuality