Catholic schools’ acceptance of gay anti-bullying clubs coming back to bite them: pro-family leaders
MISSISSAUGA, ON, December 19, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-family leaders are saying the Ontario Catholic school system’s acceptance of homosexual clubs is coming back to bite them this week as a high school student threatens to sue his Mississauga Catholic school board for not allowing his club to be openly homosexual.
Christopher Karas, 18, who identifies as homosexual, set up his anti-bullying club last year following the 2012 passage of Bill 13, which mandates schools accept “gay-straight alliances”. He told DailyXtra he hopes the club will help students with same-sex attractions to “come out.”
The school, École secondaire catholique Sainte-Famille, says their intention was that the club would not focus exclusively on homosexuality. But Karas argues that Bill 13 gives him the right to launch a club with such a focus.
In fact, even before Bill 13 passed, the Catholic bishops had already approved clubs that focus exclusively on homosexuality.
On April 15, 2011, Toronto’s Cardinal Thomas Collins, president of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, issued a memo with Nancy Kirby, then-president of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association, saying they would establish a framework for clubs with the “primary goal” of combating “bullying related to sexual orientation.”
Karas’ threat of legal action comes after he tried to advertise the club this fall with a poster featuring the image of Harvey Milk and a quote by the homosexual icon: “All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.”
DailyXtra reports that the school barred the poster because of its focus on homosexuality. Principal Alain Lalonde told the homosexual news agency that the club was meant to deal with a broader range of issues. “The idea behind the group was about inclusion, not necessarily just a gay-straight alliance,” he said.
Karas has reached out for support to homosexual activist groups such as Egale Canada, Queer Ontario, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and says he will either launch a legal challenge or human rights complaint against the school board, Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud (CSDCCS).
It now appears, however, that the school board may be willing to concede. In a statement sent to LifeSiteNews.com, the board says it “fully respects” Bill 13, and will allow the Harvey Milk poster in the school if the club members desire it.
Pro-family critics are noting that they warned the bishops from the beginning about the danger of allowing homosexual clubs in the schools.
“I hate to say we told you so, but we warned the Catholic trustees and church leadership that you cannot permit gay pride clubs into the schools, by whatever name you call them, and seriously expect they won’t conduct homosexual activism,” said Jack Fonseca, Project Manager at Campaign Life Coalition.
“From the start, we and thousands of concerned Catholic parents warned that GSAs had nothing to do with bullying prevention, and everything to do with agitating for acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle,” he continued.
Fonseca said the Catholic bishops and trustees should have simply rejected the bill as a violation of section 93 of Canada’s Constitution, which guarantees Catholics the right to teach the faith in its integrity in the separate schools.
“Now we’ve seen the result of appeasing a belligerent, anti-Catholic liberal government: a human rights complaint and a student intent on publicly undermining Catholic sexual teaching,” he said. “It’s not too late for Ontario's Bishops or Catholic school trustees to invoke section 93. They should do it quickly.”
Gwen Landolt, national vice-president of REAL Women, said it’s obvious the Catholic schools are struggling to deal with Bill 13.
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She said the school boards and bishops “wanted to downplay Bill 13 because … they were afraid of making an issue of Catholic funding to separate schools.”
“So they did a trade off and never really fought explicitly,” she continued. “But what we’re seeing now is they’re trying to deal with the impact of Bill 13.”
Like Fonseca, she said the bill has given a foothold in the schools to homosexual activists. “You’ve got special interest groups pushing this in the Catholic system and they want, of course, the Catholic system ultimately to disintegrate so that they’ll teach homosexual propaganda to the children.”
The Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association, which represents Ontario’s Catholic school boards, supported Bill 13 from the beginning. Its then-president, Nancy Kirby, attended the press conference in November 2011 when the Minister of Education announced the bill.
Despite strong opposition from parents and pro-family groups, the Catholic schools’ support for the bill was unflinching until right before the vote, when the McGuinty government introduced an amendment mandating schools allow “gay-straight alliances,” a name Ontario’s bishops had opposed because of its connection to homosexual activist groups.
Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins condemned the provision as a threat to religious freedom. But when the bill passed, the bishops and Catholic schools nevertheless affirmed their support for the bill.
In a brief statement, Cardinal Collins, on behalf of Ontario’s bishops, wrote that despite their “serious concerns,” “the Accepting Schools Act is now the law” and the Catholic schools would work within it to “foster safe and welcoming school communities.”
Marino Gazzola, then-president of OCSTA, told Catholic News Agency that they were encouraging Catholic schools to comply and were “not considering a legal challenge.”
At the same time, however, OCSTA said it would push forward with its Respecting Differences clubs, a broader-based framework that it argued would comply with the law.
That argument was advanced again this week by CSDCCS superintendent André Blais. “Our responsibility is to put in place the law. I think we have done everything we have said we would do,” he told DailyXtra. “We have no position. We apply the law.”
Fonseca also criticized the decision to allow the Harvey Milk posters, noting that Milk was a vehement opponent of Christian sexual morals who was known to court adolescent boys.
In his 1982 biography, San Francisco Chronicle reporter and homosexual activist Randy Shilts wrote that Milk “always had a penchant for young waifs with substance abuse problems.” Shilts describes, for example, the relationship 33-year-old Milk developed with 16-year-old Jack Galen McKinley. McKinley, Shilts wrote, “was looking for some kind of father figure. … At 33, Milk was launching a new life, though he could hardly have imagined the unlikely direction toward which his new lover would pull him.”
“To let this man be honoured in a Catholic school is to give scandal to the faith of teachers and students,” said Fonseca. “I think trustees have to back-up the school principal in this story and not allow Milk to be given any platform, even if it means fighting the human rights commission.”
The Archdiocese of Toronto declined to comment for this story.