WATERLOO, Ontario, May 1, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Catholic trustee in the Waterloo Catholic District School board announced a motion last week to allow high schools to set up gay-straight alliances, but then dropped it this week as trustees faced a bevy of complaints from parents and ratepayers.
Anthony Piscitelli, trustee for Kitchener/Wilmot, says gay-straight alliances are needed to combat a tendency among some Catholics to “ostracize” students who are same-sex attracted. In a video, he argued that research has shown these clubs “created a safer environment for all students.”
He was planning to propose the motion at the school board’s meeting on Monday, but he told the Waterloo Record Sunday that he decided to withdraw it after a request by board chair Manuel da Silva.
“My preference would still be to have that debate and put it out there, but the chair of the board approached me and asked if I would be willing to withdraw the motion and given that it is going to fail, I agreed,” he told the paper.
Piscitelli said there were fears the motion would be too divisive.
Gay-straight alliances have been a hot topic in Ontario for the last year and a half. Despite pressure from the government, many Catholic teachers, and activist groups, Ontario’s bishops and Catholic schools have opposed them.
The Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association said the clubs are “not acceptable in Catholic schools” in January, and earlier the bishops had explained that the clubs “imply a self-identification with sexual orientation that is often premature among high school students.”
Instead Catholic leaders have encouraged schools to set up “Respecting Differences” clubs for students concerned about bullying related to racism, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Many Catholics have feared the clubs could be used by homosexual activists to undermine Christian sexual teaching in the schools, though the clubs are intended to involve strong safeguards to circumvent that possibility.
Pro-family activists are warning that while Piscitelli has withdrawn the motion, he appears committed to promoting the GSA approach through the “Respecting Differences” framework.
According to The Record, “Piscitelli said he hopes that the Catholic board’s models will nevertheless try to emulate, as much as possible, the successful model of the gay-straight alliances to reduce bullying.”
In a Youtube video published April 24th to promote his motion, Piscitelli claimed “the Catholic Church recognizes that some individuals are born gay.”
He said the Church’s call for same-sex attracted individuals to embrace “celibacy” is “difficult for gay and lesbian students to understand, as it means they must make a choice between a lifetime of celibacy or choosing to turn away from an article of their faith.”
Campaign Life Catholics (CLC) points out that Catholic teaching never suggests people are “born gay.” Instead, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says homosexuality’s “psychological genesis remains largely unexplained,” while at the same time saying the homosexual inclination is “objectively disordered.”
CLC’s Suresh Dominic called on Catholics across Ontario to oppose the gay-straight alliance agenda and said he takes issue with the trustee’s claim that same-sex attracted students are at the greatest risk due to bullying.
“This assertion is actually not supportable by any credible evidence,” he explained. “The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and other studies have repeatedly found that physical appearance/body image is the number one reason why students are bullied at school. ‘Sexual orientation’ did not even rank in the TDSB study at all as a cause of school bullying.”
“Out of love for all students, we support efforts to reduce bullying for any reason it may occur. However, we must challenge non-factual assertions that have a political agenda,” Dominic added.
LifeSiteNews.com did not hear back from Piscitelli by press time.
Contact information for Waterloo Catholic District School Board trustees.
Director of Education Rick Boisvert
Most Rev. Douglas Crosby
Diocese of Hamilton
700 King Street West
Hamilton, ON, L8P 1C7