TORONTO, Ontario, January 27, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Ontario’s Catholic leaders are taking a strong stand against homosexual activism in the province’s Catholic schools.
In a long-awaited framework for anti-bullying clubs in the schools, they insist that the clubs remain faithful to Catholic teaching, be overseen by a staff advisor who knows and believes the Church’s teaching, and that the clubs cannot engage in activism against Catholic teaching.
Parents and pro-family activists have been concerned for months that the clubs would simply be gay-straight alliances under a Catholic name. But the framework document, sent to school boards by the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association (OCSTA) this week, insists GSAs are “not acceptable in Catholic schools.”
“We are very grateful to Ontario’s Bishops for listening to the concerns of the many parents regarding the perceived sexual agenda of the Ontario government,” said Suresh Dominic of Campaign Life Catholics. “We thank them for releasing such a thoughtful framework which provides solid protections from those who may have an agenda not in line with Catholic teaching.”
The document, dated Jan. 25th, establishes “Respecting Differences” clubs that are intended for high school students concerned about bullying related to racism, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
The document states that the clubs must be “respectful of and consistent with Catholic teaching.”
It directs principals to appoint a carefully selected staff advisor who “must know and be committed to Catholic teachings” and will be present throughout all the club’s activities.
It specifies that issues surrounding “gender identity” and sexual attraction are inappropriate for discussion in an open forum, and ought to be handled privately with counselors and chaplaincy staff.
“’Peer counselling’ in such a forum as a student-led group is inappropriate for such a dialogue and could, in fact, put students at risk,” the document reads.
The document adds that clubs may not be used for “activism, protest or advocacy of anything that is not in accord with the Catholic faith foundation of the school,” and any outside speakers must be “respectful” of Catholic teaching.
“This Resource is based upon the need to recognize that it is possible to respect, affirm and support the dignity of another person while at the same time disagreeing with their viewpoint on sexual morality,” it reads.
The Catholic schools’ stand could set up a confrontation with Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government, which recently tabled an anti-bullying bill requiring schools to allow students to “establish and lead … organizations with the name gay-straight alliance or another name.”
Education Minister Laurel Broten has stated that under the Accepting Schools Act, which is currently undergoing second reading, there is “no more debate” on GSAs.
“If students want a GSA, it must be provided,” she told Xtra. “I’m confident our Catholic schools will work with students on this.”
OCSTA has backed the bill, even showing up at the legislature as it was announced; however, it has been slammed by religious groups who say its special emphasis on “sexual orientation” makes it a direct threat to family values and religious freedom.
“The Ministry of Education for many months has been pushing for Gay-straight alliances which allow activism under the guise of anti-bullying and inclusiveness,” said Jack Fonseca of Campaign Life Catholics. “In reality, the ministries agenda is not inclusive to parents and students who adhere to authentic Catholic and Christian teaching.”
LifeSiteNews.com did not hear back from the Ministry of Education by press time.
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President, Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association (OCSTA)
Most Rev. Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto
1155 Yonge Street
Toronto (ON) M4T 1W2
Tel: (416) 934-3400 #609
Fax: (416) 934-3452