TORONTO, Ontario, January 27, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The controversial Ontario Human Rights Commission has signaled their “takeover” of the province’s education sector, a development that could threaten private schools and homeschoolers, said the Family Coalition Party of Ontario (FCP) today.
“If the OHRC is given control over the thoughts of our children, the next target will be private schools and parents who home school,” argued Phil Lees, the leader of the FCP. “The OHRC will quickly move to require private schools and parents who home school to teach their children curriculum that contradicts the values they work to instil in their kids at home.”
The FCP’s concerns are based upon the OHRC’s role as a dominant player at a major Ontario Ministry of Education conference on equity and inclusive education this week. Every school board in the province, Catholic and public, sent a delegation including a trustee, principal, parent, student trustee, and administrator.
The conference, entitled “Deepening the Understanding…Widening the Response: Equity and Inclusive Education Part II,” was held on January 26-27 at the Sheraton Hotel in Toronto, and was designed to promote the implementation of the government’s mandatory equity and inclusive education strategy.
The conference program notes that the OHRC “is working with school boards” on the strategy and will “offer details about the work the OHRC is doing to create a policy on human rights in our schools.” Barbara Hall, the OHRC’s chief commissioner, gave an opening address and OHRC members delivered two workshops, one on “human rights and student discipline” and another on “competing human rights claims.”
The OHRC has been under intense scrutiny for the past several years over their targeting of Christians and conservatives and their favoring of homosexual “rights” over religious freedom.
In a high profile 2008 case, the OHRC targeted the faith-based ministry Christian Horizons, which operates residential homes for the disabled, arguing that the ministry was discriminating by requiring employees to commit to living according to a religious code of morality. The complaint had been filed by a female employee who announced she was homosexual, and who later resigned from her position under pressure. The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruled Christian Horizons had violated the Ontario Human Rights Code, levied a fine of $23,000 and required all employees to undergo pro-homosexual “human rights” training. The Ontario Divisional Court overturned the decision last May.
Also in 2008, the OHRC was criticized by the Canadian Catholic Civil Rights League after it praised guidelines that would have infringed upon the conscience rights of physicians, and urged amendments to make the guidelines even more favorable to “transgendered persons.”
In 2009, the owner of an Ontario gym for women complained after being dragged through an expensive three year process by the OHRC after a “transgender” man filed a complaint when he was refused membership at the gym.
“In the face of these scandals, is it prudent to allow HRCs to seize control over the education of our children?” asked the FCP.
The Ontario equity strategy has faced strong criticism from pro-family advocates, who warn that the government’s intent is to promote the acceptance and affirmation of homosexuality. The FCP argued that the list of presenters at the conference confirms this charge.
The lineup included Chris D’Souza, the former Equity and Diversity Officer of the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board, who has been one of the government’s key “equity” trainers. D’Souza has previously made clear, in a presentation at the Ottawa Catholic school board, that he believes “equity” involves the elimination of “heterosexism,” which he defined as “the assumption that everyone is or should be heterosexual and that heterosexuality is the only normal, natural sexual orientation.” D’Souza has presented in over a dozen Catholic boards.
David Pihach, an administrator at the Niagara Catholic District School Board, also addressed the conference, sharing his experience as the father of a homosexual student attending a Catholic school. The conference program calls his address “a very insightful and heart wrenching story that has implications for all educators committed to ensuring that our school communities are safe, caring and inclusive.”
Of the nine workshops offered at the event over two sessions, two were offered by OHRC members, two by D’Souza, and one - called ‘LGBTQ Outloud’ - dealt specifically with homosexuality.
A session on the “legal perspective” of the equity strategy discussed in part “issues of compliance and the consequences of non-compliance.”
“The threat to parental rights and freedom of conscience cannot be overstated,” said the FCP. “Parents who object to the indoctrination of their own children will become the objects of derision. The denominational rights and teaching authority of the Catholic Church is directly threatened by this intervention of the OHRC.”
Lees insisted that religious beliefs are protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The lessons given through private schools and homeschooling “do not discriminate against the choices of others,” he said, “but do help the child to understand and apply their creed/religion.”
Tim Hudak, Opposition Leader
The Ontario PC Party
19 Duncan Street
Toronto, ON M5H 3H1