TORONTO, Ontario, February 17, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In the wake of the successful campaign by homosexual activists to overturn a pro-family equity policy at the Halton Catholic District School Board, the University of Toronto held a forum February 10th to discuss how to handle religious opposition to “LGBT” issues in schools.
The evening session, organized by U of T’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, aimed “to address the ongoing tensions surrounding religion and LGBTQ sexualities in schools and society.”
Another organizer was a U of T group named Que(e)rying Religion, which aims to convince people of faith that homosexual acts and relationships are acceptable and normal.
The event heightens the concerns of many pro-family leaders that homosexual activists are working with the Ontario government to ensure the province’s schools affirm the homosexual lifestyle, under the guise of combating “homophobia” and promoting “safe schools.”
Pro-family leaders have argued, for example, that the McGuinty government’s equity and inclusive education strategy is a Trojan horse that imposes special rights for homosexuals.
According to pro-life activist Leeda Crawford, who attended the event on LifeSiteNews’ behalf, each of the session’s five panelists, with four representing different faith groups, acknowledged that they are homosexual.
The four religiously-associated panelists were: Paul Marai, a trustee at the Halton Catholic District School Board; Tyler Pennock, the Aboriginal Recruitment Officer for the University of Toronto; Suhail Abualsameed, the coordinator of Salaam: Queer Muslim Community; and Scott McGrath, chair of Annex Shul.
They were joined by Jen Gilbert, an associate professor in the Faculty of Education at York University, who specializes in issues of sexuality and adolescence.
Marai’s involvement stemmed from the headlines he’s drawn in recent months after precipitating the repeal of the Halton Catholic board’s pro-family policy. The policy, which included specific clauses to safeguard Catholic Church teaching in the area of homosexuality, including a ban on gay-straight alliance clubs, was passed in November but overturned by a new board in January.
Marai told the attendees that he is a “progressive” Catholic who believes that Catholic doctrine is changing to accommodate modern norms. He said he thinks that spirituality and sexuality are slowly evolving in the Catholic tradition.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that homosexual acts are gravely depraved and the homosexual inclination itself is objectively disordered. At the same time, it condemns “unjust discrimination” against homosexuals and calls them to live chastity.
Abualsameed spoke about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, often cited as a Scriptural condemnation of homosexuality; however, he interpreted it as a condemnation of a sin against hospitality. He did note, however, that he was concerned about teachers and others pushing youth to “come out,” or about youth being referred for counseling without parents’ knowledge.
McGrath claimed that the Torah doesn’t condemn homosexuality per se, saying that it merely condemns anal sex between men, but not same-sex relations between women. He claimed there is a split in the Jewish tradition on the acceptance of homosexuality and lesbianism. He also suggested that the Hebrew word for “abomination,” which is used to describe homosexual acts, has various meanings.
Gilbert said that the advancement of the equity and inclusive education agenda has been helped by the conflicting voices from the religious communities.
Crawford told LifeSiteNews that the faith-associated homosexual panelists appeared to be sincere, rather than simply aiming to overthrow religious belief. “My heart goes out to them. They seem to truly believe that Scripture is not opposed to homosexual acts,” she said. “I think it’s that they don’t want to abandon their faith, so they have to change the meaning of God’s condemnation of same sex acts in order to practice both their faith and the behaviour God has told them is abominable.”
“Unfortunately, they’re misguided and promoting a dangerous threat to the chastity and the morals of the youth they counsel,” she added.