Hamilton school board ‘religious accommodation’ policy would exclude moral beliefs
HAMILTON, Ontario, June 10, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Christian pro-family activists are denouncing a new Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board “religious accommodation” policy that they say is deliberately designed to allow schools to exclude traditional moral beliefs.
The school board’s ‘Interim Religious Accommodation Guideline’ unjustly discriminates against Christians by re-defining religion to exclude moral beliefs, wrote Jim Enos, president of the Hamilton-Wentworth Family Action Council, in a submission to the board this week. The board is seeking public input on the policy until June 17th.
The policy is ostensibly designed to protect freedom of religion as part of the Ontario government’s controversial equity and inclusive education strategy. However, it’s definition of “creed” states, “Creed does not include secular, moral, or ethical beliefs or political convictions.”
“The right to freedom of religion … is not absolute,” it states further, adding that the board “cannot … accommodate religious values and beliefs that clearly conflict with mandated Ministry of Education and Board policies.”
“To suggest that one can be Christian without having moral convictions is absolutely false and unveils the Christophobic nature of this Guideline,” wrote Enos. “It is impossible to obey Biblical teaching while having no understanding of nor honouring of the morals and principles put forth in the Bible.”
“It is upon the principles of these Christian morals which Canada is founded and Canadian law is based,” he added.
The policy appears to dovetail with a leaked document from January 2010 in which the school board indicated children would not be permitted to withdraw from classes promoting homosexuality. The document, distributed during “equity” training for teachers, advised the teachers to inform parents who object to “anti-homophobia” curriculum that “this is not about parent rights.”
“As teachers, we do not condone children being removed from our classes when we engage in anti-racism education. This issue is no different,” the teachers were instructed to tell parents. “All children, including yours, have a right to an education free from discrimination.”
This week, LifeSiteNews revealed that the Toronto District School Board has a specific policy forbidding parents from opting their kids out of classes treating homosexuality, and telling schools not to advise parents when the controversial issue comes up.
Toronto’s comprehensive “anti-homophobia” curriculum promotes the city’s raunchy Pride parade to kindergarteners and aims to transform students into social activists by the end of high school.
As boards are increasingly integrating their “anti-homophobia” curriculum across subject areas, parents seeking to protect their children from pro-homosexual curriculum will likely find it impossible to do so without completely leaving the public system. Leaving the system is exactly what Enos’ group is advising. “We continue to recommend that Judeo-Christian families flee the Ontario public school system and support governance which will put an end to such denial and oppression of Christianity,” he wrote.
Enos described the Hamilton board’s efforts to accommodate Christians in recent years as “dismal.”
Based on a guarantee from the Ontario Ministry of Education that parents have the right to opt out of controversial classes, his group and others have also encouraged Christians to submit statements of faith to their schools. According to Enos, until recently the Hamilton school board had mostly respected parents’ wishes. But since the introduction of their new “equity” policy, he says the statements of faith have been “rejected and dismissed as they now seem to be trumped by said human rights which HWDSB deem of greater significance than a family’s commitment to honour and serve God.”
“This is truly Christophobic and blatantly discriminatory,” he wrote.
“This Guideline is disrespectful, dishonouring and discriminatory toward Judeo-Christian principled families,” he wrote. “It has no justified place in a democratic nation founded on the principles of the Supremacy of God.”
The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is seeking public input on the ‘Interim Religious Accommodation Guideline’ until June 17th at 4 p.m. For information on how to contribute, visit their website here.
Hon. Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of Education
Mowat Block, 22nd Flr, 900 Bay St
Toronto, ON M7A 1L2
Tel: 1-800-387-5514 (TTY 1-800-263-2892)
Email: [email protected]
Elizabeth Witmer, Education Critic
Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
Rm 422, Main Legislative Building
Toronto ON M7A 1A8
E-mail: Use this form.
John Malloy, Director of Education
Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
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)
Find contact information for trustees at the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board here.