By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

Update: Since this story was published, Premier McGuinty has announced that he is indefinitely suspending plans to implement the new sex-ed curriculum across the board, due to the intense backlash that it has received. Read more here.

HAMILTON, April 22, 2010 ( – Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board trustees gave unanimous approval last week to their controversial “gender equity policy,” moving the board closer to implementing the homosexuality and “anti-homophobia” curriculum mandated by the Ontario Ministry of Education's Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy.

The Hamilton Spectator reported that the board's equity policy, “dealing with the rights and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ)” students, was “one step closer to creating safer, inclusive school environments,” with the aim of eliminating “stereotypes based on gender or sexual orientation from the classroom and throughout the school board.”

“It's about time that we've reached this place,” board chairperson Jessica Brennan was reported to have said after the meeting. “Overall, I'm feeling satisfied.”

Although official Ontario Ministry of Education policy allows for an opt-out of students from courses given in schools to which parents object on grounds of religion or family values, a leaked document obtained by a local Hamilton journalist found that teachers were being instructed to tell parents who object to the curriculum that “this is not about parent rights.”

At the end of January this year, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board hosted a professional development day dedicated to “equity” training, where they distributed a sheet to teachers with “quick responses” they can offer to parents who object to the school board's “anti-homophobia” curriculum.

According to Public Education Advocates for Christian Equality (PEACE), a group formed to fight against the implementation of the gender equity policy, a letter from Minister of Education, Kathleen Wynne, who is herself a lesbian, states that, “Should a component of any course conflict with a religious belief held by a parent or a student aged eighteen or older, the right to withdraw from that component of the course shall be granted on the written request of the parent of student.”

PEACE also holds a letter from Gail Balisario, principal of the Equity Committee of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, who told the group that, “Families that hold these traditional values need to inform the school in writing so that we can do our best to meet the needs of the student.”

Phil Lees of PEACE Hamilton suggests that parents who wish to opt out of the objectionable curriculum but keep their children in the public schools, send official letters to their school stating their clear intention to place limits on the social and moral teaching and indoctrination they would permit for the children in the school, and inform the school that their children will be withdrawn from courses that conflict with their family values.

Lees says the other option available to parents is to take their children out of the public school system and enroll them in either the Catholic school system or an independent Christian school, or to home school them.

“Catholic secondary schools have been open to non-Catholics for many years. At the elementary level (JK – grade 8) the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic School Board has started to accept non-Catholic families who desire that their children be educated in an environment that is consistent with their biblical-Christian values. Parents that have changed to the Catholic system have been very satisfied,” the PEACE website states.

“In Hamilton there are many home school support groups where parents co-operatively work together to educate the next generation,” Mr. Lees remarked, “A recent Ontario Home Schooling Connections (OCHEC) conference demonstrated the dedication, desire and professionalism of the home school option.”

PEACE Hamilton offers parents information and a communication package on their website, with form letters which can be downloaded, filled in and sent to the school.

The documents provide “a clear and easy way to make your desires known to the school and classroom teacher(s)” and are available in both an ‘Our Family's Spiritual Values’ format which asks that Biblical-Christian values be respected, and an “Our Family's Traditional Values” form that is modified for non-religious families.

The PEACE Hamilton communication package is available here.

To contact the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board with your concern/opinion:

John Malloy, Director of Education
100 Main St. West
P.O. Box 2558
Hamilton, ON L8N 3L1
Phone: (905) 527-5092 ext.2297
E-mail: [email protected] (through Executive Assistant)

See previous LSN coverage:

Leaked Document: No Opt-Out for Children from Pro-Gay Classes in Ontario Schools

Ontario Gvmt Won’t Say Whether Catholic Schools Can Teach Beliefs on Homosexuality