Education Minister supports school boards in refusing parents’ right to pull kids from sex classes
TORONTO, Sept. 12, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As a Hamilton father fights his school board in court for the right to protect his children from classes on sexuality that he considers objectionable, Ontario’s Education Minister is backing the board.
In a statement to LifeSiteNews about whether she supports the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board’s decision to forbid religious accommodation to students seeking to withdraw from classes dealing with homosexuality, Education Minister Laurel Broten says school boards may refuse parents’ requests for religious accommodation if they deem fit.
“Boards have the autonomy and flexibility to make accommodations based on individual requests, on a case by case basis,” Broten told LifeSiteNews Tuesday afternoon. “We will continue to support a province-wide curriculum, and local approaches to religious accommodation.”
Some pro-family leaders are questioning the government’s motives, however, noting that the government seemed unconcerned with “local approaches” when it came to forcing gay-straight alliances on the Catholic schools.
Dr. Steve Tourloukis, a dentist and member of the Greek Orthodox Church, filed suit against the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board on Friday after the board refused his repeated requests over two years to withdraw his children from classes dealing with homosexuality and other sensitive issues.
While working to get equity policies passed by school boards across the province, the McGuinty government had assured parents they could withdraw their child from a component of “any course” that violates their religious beliefs.
“If there is a component of any course, in conflict with the personal beliefs of the parents, something they don’t believe in, the parents can withdraw the student from that component of the course,” spokesman Gary Wheeler told Canwest News Service in April 2010, echoing a 2008 statement by then-Education Minister Kathleen Wynne.
But now Minister Broten says “inclusive education” has been integrated throughout the curriculum, so such withdrawals are restricted to high school health and physical education.
“Inclusive and equitable education,” as well as topics such as financial literacy and environmental stewardship, “are integrated and embedded across all curricula so that learning may be built and reinforced in a variety of age and grade appropriate contexts,” she told LifeSiteNews. “That means that it’s not just on one day that students are learning about how to be more environmental conscious or how to be more accepting and inclusive.”
In addition to the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, the policy has dire ramifications for thousands of families in the Toronto District School Board, which is the largest in Canada and fourth largest in North America.
The TDSB has a published policy forbidding withdrawals from its radical pro-homosexual curriculum, and even forbids teachers to notify parents in advance. Board chair Chris Bolton has insisted exemptions will “not be condoned.”
At a meeting in the spring of 2010 before passing its equity policy, the HWDSB had told an angry crowd of parents that the board would provide religious accommodation when requested.
But the board has since told Tourloukis that if he’s uncomfortable with the classes he should put his kids in private school or homeschool them.
The McGuinty government’s policy reversal is only the government’s latest threat to the freedoms of religion and conscience in favour of a homosexual activist agenda.
When they initially proposed to force homosexual clubs on all publicly-funded schools in Bill 13, the government made provision for the Catholic schools to adopt their own model. But a mere week before its passage, they amended the bill to force the Catholic schools to allow gay-straight alliances, something the Catholic Church had opposed.
Mary Ellen Douglas, president of Campaign Life Coalition Ontario, raised concern that the government is supporting the school boards in taking a “very heavy-handed approach designed to discourage other parents” from taking action like Tourloukis.
“The parents are the primary educators of their children. If something is being taught that is morally repulsive to the parents they should be able to remove their children,” she said.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has said his government is aiming to change the province’s “attitudes” on homosexuality, adding that it’s a process that “should begin in the home.”