Canadian Catholic school board ‘bullied’ into scrapping pro-family policy
HALTON, Ontario, January 19, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Dozens of homosexual activists flooded the Halton Catholic District School Board offices Tuesday evening as trustees voted 6-2 under heavy pressure and intimidation to scrap a pro-family equity policy that sought to ensure that only Catholic moral teachings on sexuality would be presented in board schools.
The policy, which was passed by the previous board in November as part of the equity and inclusive education strategy mandated by the Ontario government, had been praised for including explicit wording to prevent instruction that undermines Catholic teaching on homosexuality.
But it came under heavy fire in recent weeks through a campaign focused against their ban on gay-straight alliances (GSAs). That campaign included numerous national news stories centered around interviews with homosexual activists, and even a condemnation from homosexual celebrity blogger Perez Hilton.
The effort to rescind the policy was spearheaded by trustee Paul Marai, a 22-year-old homosexual activist elected in October, who was supported by a contingent of groups including Egale and Change.org. They rallied activists from across North America through a petition and an e-mail campaign.
The meeting last night was attended by activist groups such as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), Queer Ontario, and Heterosexuals for Same-Sex Equality, and some reports indicate there were at least 50 activists present.
“In stark contrast” to this “jubilant” group, says the Canadian homosexualist news site Xtra!, was a group of seven supporters of the pro-family policy who, according to one activist present, “cower[ed] near the door.”
The board voted to replace the scrapped policy in the interim with the template Catholic equity policy provided by the Ontario Education Services Corporation, which has drawn sharp criticism for including “sexual orientation” as grounds for non-discrimination, contrary to a Vatican directive. The board will work on drafting a new policy.
Several activists vowed after the meeting to monitor the policy development process closely, and CCLA representative Noa Mendelsohn Aviv threatened to act if any high school attempts to block a student from starting a gay-straight alliance.
Former Halton student James Hopkins, 19, who shared with the board what he described as his negative experiences in the schools as a homosexual, said that while this battle was won, “the fight is far from over,” in Xtra!‘s words. He said he plans to “pressure” the Ministry of Education into requiring a single equity and inclusive education policy for all school boards, whether Catholic or public.
At the same time, trustee Jane Michael, who backed the pro-family policy along with Anthony Danko, told those gathered that she received over 200 phone calls and e-mails on the issue, “predominantly from Halton asking me to keep the policy as is.”
“If we abandon our Catholic principles, we will have abandoned our partnership with home and church and ultimately what makes us unique and different from the public board,” she said. “We must maintain an equity policy which firmly and explicitly upholds Catholic teaching.”
“We owe it to both our homosexual and our heterosexual students to teach them about God’s plan for sexuality and personhood, and help them live a chaste life,” she continued. “We must continue to ‘walk the talk’ for Catholic virtues. I cannot sell out to the media and public opinion, because I will continue to walk the talk.”
Beyond simply banning GSAs, the board had required teachers to consult the Catholic Catechism’s teaching on homosexuality (paragraphs 2357-2358) when they address the topic, and emphasized that “equity” and “inclusion” must be interpreted in accordance with Catholic teaching, and are not acceptable unless they do.
The pro-family policy was supported by trustees Anthony Danko and Jane Michael, and it was opposed by Paul Marai, Arlene Iantomasi, Ed Viana, John Morrison, Diane Rabenda, and John Mark Rowe. Board chair Alice Anne LeMay abstained.
To respectfully voice concerns:
Alice Anne LeMay (905) 632-6300 [email protected]
Jane Michael (905) 319-6582 [email protected]
Arlene Lantomasi (905) 529-6155 [email protected]
John Morrison (905) 639-4718 [email protected]
Mark Rowe (905) 877-9510 [email protected]
Ed Viana (905) 632-6300 [email protected]
Diane Rabenda (905) 632-6300 [email protected]
Anthony Danko (905) 825-9159 [email protected]
Most Rev. Gerard P. Bergie, Bishop of St. Catharines
Chair, Ontario Bishops Education Commission
P.O. Box 875
St. Catharines, ON L2R 6Z4
Tel: (905) 684-0154
Fax: (905) 684-2185
Most Rev. Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., Bishop of Hamilton
700 King Street West
Hamilton, ON L8P 1C7
Tel: (905) 528-7988
Fax: (905) 528-1088
E-mail: [email protected]
Most Rev. Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto
President, Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario
1155 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON M4T 1W2
Tel: (416) 934-3400 #609
Fax: (416) 934-3452
E-mail: [email protected]