Christian group demands Ontario school board use Bill 13 to protect students from ‘Christophobia’
HAMILTON, Ontario, June 13, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In the wake the passage of Ontario’s “anti-bullying” Bill 13, Christian parents and leaders in the Hamilton area are demanding that their school board address what they say are instances of Christian children being bullied for their beliefs in public schools.
“There is a sincere need for anti-Christophobia efforts in the public schools of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB),” said Jim Enos, president of the Hamilton-Wentworth Family Action Council to LifeSiteNews. “Children from traditional biblically moral homes need to be offered a safe environment at public school.”
The issue of Christian children being bullied was brought to the attention of board members during a meeting Monday evening. Father Geoffrey Korz, Dean of Ontario for the Orthodox Church in America, and General Secretary of the Pan-Orthodox Association of Greater Hamilton, told an HWDSB committee that according to Statistics Canada, hate-motivated attacks against traditional religious groups increased by 55% over the past two years.
“As you know, this Board pioneered anti-bullying initiatives arising out of its Equity Policy, as far back as 2007, long before Ontario’s Bill 13. Yet the Board has concentrated almost all its efforts on only one identified group, that is self-identified LGBT students. Why was this group selected?” he said.
Critics have charged that Bill 13, billed by legislators as a general “anti-bullying” measure, had clear ulterior motives, as evidenced by its hyper-focus on students who identify as “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirited, intersex, queer and questioning (LGBTTIQ)”.
Cecilia Forsyth, president of Real Women of Canada, told LifeSiteNews in a recent interview that Bill 13 is not about “preventing anti-bullying in schools,” but about “pushing on our children a radical revision of sex-education that is built on the full acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.”
Korz pointed out to the committee that in order for the HWDSB Board to avoid a double standard, it must “provide for anti-bullying initiatives in support of traditionally-minded Christian students.”
“This only makes sense,” said Korz, “since as we know, bullying against such students outnumber by at least 2 to 1, attacks against self-identified LGBT students.”
Korz noted that Orthodox Christians are willing to “work constructively” with the HWDSB Board to develop and implement what he called an “anti-Christophobic bullying initiative” that would grant traditionally-minded students the same protections as others.
Korz offered a number of recommendations, including that the Board “undertake a Board-wide, annual Anti-Christophobia Initiative to address bullying against traditional Christians in the public schools, including a steering committee and an information campaign, that would parallel the LGBT-focused initiatives currently in place in Board schools.”
He also proposed that the Board “utilize community resources provided by traditional Christian religious freedom organizations, to equip and inform staff and students, providing equivalent resources to those supplied for the various strands of the Equity Policy”, and that Christian resources be “integrated into all curriculum, in a manner that parallels the anti-bullying strategies directed at self-identifying LGBT students.”
Korz finally recommended that “schools be assisted in the development of Religious Freedom Clubs, to offer support to traditional Christian students, to raise consciousness of discrimination, bullying, and violence against traditional Christians in Canada and abroad, and to support school- and Board-wide initiatives to combat such attacks.”
Enos told LifeSiteNews that Korz’s presentation was “thorough, logical and intelligent” and that it simply used the “Board’s own language” to demand that Christian children are “afforded the very same efforts that are currently in place for children of the self-identifed LGBT community”.
He said that Christian parents can “only imagine” what it would be like to see their children’s values and beliefs being affirmed and promoted in public schools in the same way that the LGBT community’s values and beliefs are currently being affirmed and promoted.
“You’d see things like Christian Celebration week and Christian heroes specifically identified in school curriculum. You’d see Christian celebration posters in the hallways and Christian-safe classrooms with the cross posted on the classroom doors as an identifier. Finally, you’d see things like mandatory attendance of students and staff to anti-Christophobic assemblies where everyone would be able to listen to Christian speakers and to gain understanding of the biblically moral Christian community.”
“And this is just the short list,” Enos said.
Korz ended his presentation by telling the committee of his hope that the Board will be “pro-active in protecting our students and its own corporate legal interests in providing equal protection for a demonstrably victimized group.”
“One cannot imagine that trustees would settle for anything less,” he said.