TORONTO, Ontario, March 9, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Toronto Catholic District School Board is moving forward in implementing a controversial equity policy after voting down a trustee’s effort to include clear protections for Catholic sexual teaching.
The draft policy, which recognizes “sexual orientation” as a grounds for non-discrimination, contrary to a Vatican directive, is part of the Ontario government’s mandatory and controversial equity and inclusive education strategy. The Toronto Catholic board is the only remaining board in the province without an equity policy.
At a February 15th meeting trustee John Del Grande introduced a number of amendments to ensure equity was interpreted in the schools according to Catholic teaching. The changes were designed to establish “crisp boundaries” to make the policy more “explicitly Catholic,” he told LifeSiteNews.
The amendments clarified that equity and inclusion be implemented “in a manner consistent with the Catholic faith and Catholic moral teaching.” Where the policy emphasizes the need for student voices in securing equity, and in establishing partnerships with the Catholic community, they clarified that these should only be considered where they are in line with Catholic faith.
Del Grande also tried to add the word “unjust” before every instance of “discrimination,” pointing out that the Church recognizes just forms of discrimination - in opposing homosexual adoption, for example.
The board shot down the motion, however, claiming the whole policy was already Catholic and that it already included clauses upholding Catholic teaching.
Alissa Golob, head of Campaign Life Coalition Youth, says the vote reveals the board’s “hidden agenda” in implementing the policy. “The only purpose of these amendments was to make sure Catholic teaching is taught in the schools,” she said. “If the board was really interested in upholding Church teachings on homosexuality, why would they oppose these explicit clauses? Clearly there’s some kind of hidden agenda at work here among some individuals at the board.”
Del Grande noted that “it’s hard to argue” with the policy’s statements on inclusion and equity, but said he’s particularly concerned about how it will be implemented in the schools. “That’s where you get the wide variety of things,” he explained. How do I know one school or one teacher isn’t going to bring up controversial material or bring in controversial speakers?”
“Once you get a precedent that happens, or a breakdown in one school, it basically proliferates through,” he added.
Del Grande said he is dedicating his next four years as a trustee to improving the Catholic commitment of Toronto’s schools. “The one thing I heard more than anything when I was on the campaign trail was ‘Our schools aren’t Catholic enough, our teachers aren’t Catholic enough’,” he said.
“Just who does the board think they represent if not Catholic ratepayers?” asked Gwen Landolt, vice president of REAL Women. “They’re certainly not responding responsibly to who elected them. They seem to be on a frolic of their own if they’re not going to include the fact that the board must in fact be in accordance with Catholic teaching.”
“To strike that [amendment] down, what then is to distinguish Catholic schools from public schools?” she asked. “Why are we paying taxes for a separate school system?”
The board is now holding public consultations on the policy, primarily through a full-day symposium on March 26th, and they intend to pass it sometime in April.
The Toronto Catholic District School Board’s draft equity policy is available here.
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