TORONTO, Ontario, January 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Ontario’s Education Minister says she was “so grateful” to have the head of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association at her side as she announced the government’s controversial anti-bullying bill in November.
In a video aired at a Jan. 13th gathering of Catholic trustees, Minister Laurel Broten praised OCSTA president Nancy Kirby’s support for the bill, which has been criticized by religious groups and opposition politicians for its strong emphasis on “sexual orientation.”
“At Queen’s Park when I announced our comprehensive action plan to tackle bullying, I was so proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Catholic teachers and trustees,” says Broten in a recording obtained by LifeSiteNews. “Your president, Nancy Kirby, was right there with me. I was so grateful. Thank you, Nancy.”
The Accepting Schools Act, which was tabled Nov. 30th and is undergoing second reading, seeks to impose tougher consequences, including expulsion, for “bullying and hate-motivated actions.”
The bill, which comes as part of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s ongoing effort to reform the province’s attitudes on homosexuality, would require schools to support students who want to “establish and lead … organizations with the name gay-straight alliance or another name.”
Nancy Kirby, who is involved in developing a framework for homosexual anti-bullying clubs on behalf of Ontario’s bishops, told the trustees that the bullying issue “is an opportunity for all of us to speak with clarity and confidence about our longstanding ability to welcome, support, serve and affirm the dignity and diversity of all students in our schools.”
She said the government’s bill requires schools, in part, to “promote awareness, understanding, and respect for … people with all sexual attractions and gender identities.”
In her remarks, Broten praises the newly-formed homosexual club at St. Joseph Secondary School in Mississauga for providing “support to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer students and their allies.”
The student-led group, she said, “promotes attitudes of inclusion and seeks to educate the rest of the community and raise awareness about homophobia.”
The group was founded by teen Leanne Iskander, who was named grand marshal of the 2011 Gay Pride parade and awarded Pride Toronto’s ‘LGBTQ Youth of the Year’ award for her efforts to promote gay-straight alliances in the Catholic schools. Her campaign has been backed by leading groups such as Egale, Pride Toronto, Queer Ontario, and Xtra. (See video of Iskander at the Gay Pride parade here.)
“Bullying in any form of anyone is unacceptable. But there is a particular need to take a stand on homophobic bullying,” said the minister, who cited statistics from the homosexual lobby group Egale indicating that 64% of homosexual students and 61% of students with homosexual parents feel “unsafe” at school.
The import of those statistics were questioned by a recent editorial published by the pro-family newspaper The Interim, however. “Let’s put this into context by looking at a more reliable, mainstream survey done by the American Association of University Women which showed that 83 per cent of all girls and 79 per cent of all boys report experiencing physical intimidation or sexual harassment at school,” read the editorial. “By looking at this context, one can see how gay activists manipulate numbers and language, while leaving out context, to whip up irrational fear.”
“The reality is that LGBTQ students are some of the most vulnerable to bullying,” said Broten. “They are some of the most in need of those Catholic values of love, inclusion, acceptance and empathy.”
Suresh Dominic of Campaign Life Catholics called Broten’s comments “simply astonishing.”
“The audacity of coming to a gathering of ostensibly faithful Catholic trustees and rubbing the homosexual agenda in their faces reeks of total contempt for the Catholic Church,” he said. “Did Broten think she was addressing participants at a Gay Pride Parade, rather than individuals charged with forming children in the image of Christ?”
“This rude treatment of Catholics by the McGuinty government ought to serve as a future predictor of how they’ll treat Catholic values should Bill 13 and the openly-homosexual clubs pass.”
President, Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association (OCSTA)
E-mail: [email protected]
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