Wednesday November 17, 2010

Catholic school board praised for pro-family approach to controversial ‘equity’ policy

By Patrick B. Craine

HALTON, Ontario, November 17, 2010 ( – The Halton Catholic District School Board earned praise from one of the strongest opponents of the Ontario equity strategy this week, after the board passed an equity policy that seeks to uphold Catholic teaching while also condemning all forms of unjust discrimination.

“The Halton Catholic board should be commended in their efforts to protect the faith and morals of students in their care,” said Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition. “While the policy is still overly vague, they have offered other boards a good starting point for amending their equity policies.”

The Halton equity policy, which the trustees approved on November 2nd, includes explicit wording to prevent instruction in schools that undermines Catholic teaching in the area of homosexuality, which has been Catholics’ central concern about the government’s equity strategy.

That strategy, which requires all school boards to adopt an equity policy by this fall, has faced strong opposition because it demands that the boards recognize “sexual orientation” as a prohibited ground for discrimination. Critics point out, however, that the Ministry’s documents recommend more than simply prohibiting unjust discrimination; instead they suggest that schools celebrate the Gay Pride Parades, use texts by homosexual authors, and promote homosexual clubs such as gay-straight alliances.

The Halton policy, on the other hand, explicitly bans “gay-straight alliances” and similar clubs, and requires that teachers consult the Catholic Catechism’s teaching on homosexuality (paragraphs 2357-2358) when they address the topic.

The policy also reflects Catholic doctrine on homosexuality more accurately than the template equity policy approved by the Ontario Bishops, which has drawn sharp criticism for recognizing “sexual orientation” as a prohibited ground for discrimination, in direct opposition to a Vatican directive.

The Halton policy makes no mention of “sexual orientation” and notably inserts “unjust discrimination,” whereas the template policy merely condemned “discrimination.” The policy also emphasizes that “equity” and “inclusion” must be interpreted in accordance with Catholic teaching, and are not acceptable unless they do.

“Both in its content and methodology, inclusive curriculum must reflect Catholic teaching,” it states. “While all students should be able to see themselves reflected in the curriculum this goal does not extend to recognition of personal conduct that is not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

The policy upholds the Board’s commitment to hiring “practicing Catholics” and to ensuring that instruction is “consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

The policy also clearly notes that “all textbooks, curriculum and support materials approved by the Ministry of Education for use in schools are not necessarily aligned with Catholic Church teaching.” It specifies that textbooks and curriculum will be chosen that “reflect a Catholic worldview,” and if such texts are not available, the teacher will provide an appropriate context “to ensure that nothing undermines or contradicts the teachings of the Catholic church.”

While praising the board’s strong effort to protect Catholic teaching, Hughes said the policy “is still not explicit enough to prevent dissent under the guise of ‘equity’, ‘pastoral care’, or ‘social justice’.”

“They should have been more explicit in requiring that teachers not only consult the Catechism teachings on homosexuality, but actually teach them,” he explained. “Those teachings, in their fullness, should be mandatory whenever the topic comes up.”

He praised the board for its explicit ban on “gay-straight alliances,” but said they failed to establish positive criteria for who can be used as resources in the areas of homosexuality and family life. He recommended, for example, Courage or psychologists from the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).

This is important, he said, “given the strong pressure from the Ministry and the movement of dissent among some in the Catholic education system.”

“The Halton policy is a a good start,” said Hughes. “We commend the trustees for their strong attempt to protect the school system against McGuinty’s homosexual activism and to affirm the truth of Catholic teaching.”

The Halton Catholic District School Board’s equity policy can be found here.

See related coverage:

Catholics Urge Ontario Bishops to Reconsider Approval of Gay-Neutral Education Policy

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