Catholic school workshop with gay ‘marriage’ advocate postponed after parent backlash
TORONTO, Ontario, March 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Toronto Catholic school board’s decision to postpone a controversial equity workshop with a same-sex “marriage” advocate came after parents voiced their concerns over the speaker, reports the Catholic Register, Canada’s largest Catholic paper.
The workshop, originally scheduled for March 26th, was to feature a talk by Chris D’Souza, one of the government’s key equity trainers, who has made it a key point in his presentations to Catholics that “equity” involves accepting the homosexual lifestyle itself. The workshop was part of a consultation process on the board’s draft equity and inclusive education policy.
The board says the March 26th event and another for March 30th are being rescheduled because of scheduling difficulties with panelists.
But in a March 23rd newsletter trustee John Del Grande connected the rescheduling with the controversy over D’Souza. Del Grande had previously expressed concerns about how the policy would be implemented given D’Souza’s involvement as an equity trainer.
Del Grande told the Catholic Register there were also concerns over the workshop’s format. “Is it a talking-to session or hearing from people, feedback from people? A public consultation format that ‘indoctrinates’ and presents only one side would be problematic,” he said.
D’Souza, an education professor at York University and the former equity officer at the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board, has delivered over 1,400 workshops across Ontario in the last eight years, including presentations to over a dozen Catholic boards.
In his presentations to Catholic school boards, he has emphasized that “equity” involves the elimination of “heterosexism,” which he defines as “the assumption that everyone is or should be heterosexual and that heterosexuality is the only normal, natural sexual orientation.”
In addition to D’Souza’s presentation, the workshop was to include a panel discussion, small table dialogues, and a taped message from Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto.
The board had defended D’Souza’s invitation in an e-mail to LifeSiteNews last week, saying that he was introduced at the Windsor Catholic school board by a London diocese bishop. LifeSiteNews did not hear back from the Diocese of London by press time.
According to the board’s statement, D’Souza “advocates for the TCDSB view that we need to see ‘Christ in every child’ and act accordingly within our traditions.” “He is an advocate of TCDSB desire to eliminate prejudicial barriers so our children can demonstrate compassion for others while maintaining their faith,” it reads.
The board’s draft equity policy has come under fire from parents and pro-family groups in the last month after the board voted down several amendments from Del Grande specifying that equity and inclusion must be implemented “in a manner consistent with the Catholic faith and Catholic moral teaching.” Trustees are expected to pass the policy sometime in April.
The policy is a response to the government’s mandatory equity and inclusive education strategy, which has been criticized by pro-family groups because it required boards to recognize “sexual orientation” as a grounds for non-discrimination. They say it grants leverage to homosexual activists who want to subvert Catholic doctrine in the Catholic schools.
Recognizing “sexual orientation” in this way would also appear to violate a 1992 directive from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which warned that such a recognition “can easily lead, if not automatically, to the legislative protection and promotion of homosexuality.”
In addition to D’Souza’s invitation, parents’ concerns were heightened by the fact that the board opened a January meeting on the policy with a prayer by a well-known dissident nun calling the homosexual inclination a “manifestation of [God’s] goodness.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church insists that those with homosexual inclinations be “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” and condemns “unjust discrimination” towards them, but also calls homosexual inclinations “objectively disordered,” and homosexual acts “acts of grave depravity” (2357-2359).
Some have claimed that Catholic boards are obligated to implement the government’s equity strategy because the province made it mandatory. However, critics point out that the Catechism states that citizens are “obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel” (2242).
LifeSiteNews didn’t hear back from the Toronto Catholic District School Board by press time.
The Toronto Catholic District School Board’s draft equity policy is available here.
(416) 512-3405 [email protected]
Frank D’Amico (416) 512-3406 [email protected]
John Del Grande (416) 512-3407 [email protected]
Tobias Enverga (416) 512-3408 [email protected]
Jo-Ann Davis (416) 512-3409 [email protected]
Barbara Poplawski (416) 512-3410 [email protected]
Angela Kennedy (416) 512=3411 [email protected]
Nancy Crawford (416) 512-3412 [email protected]
Natalie Rizzo (416) 512-3413 [email protected] (Student trustee)