CALGARY, Alberta, December 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Expecting Catholic school employees to abide by long-standing Catholic morals will be added to the legal understanding of “discrimination,” if a case currently before the Alberta Human Rights Commission succeeds against Calgary Catholic School District.
At issue is the district’s language in teacher contracts that holds them to “Catholic values,” particularly a “lifestyle and deportment in harmony with Catholic teaching and principles.” The Calgary Herald reports that Barb Hamilton, a former principal in the district, is one of two people suing over the requirement; another teacher has chosen to remain anonymous.
Hamilton has filed her human-rights complaints on “marital status, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation” grounds, Catholic News Agency reports. “Their perspective is I resigned and my perspective is I wasn’t given a choice,” she claims.
“Relationships that would be acceptable are those recognized by the Catholic Church, that have to be acknowledged by a Catholic priest,” human resources superintendent Richard Svoboda confirmed to the Herald. “That would not include a same-sex relationship or a common-law relationship.”
Some of Hamilton’s supporters, such as MacEwan University professor Kristopher Wells, have expressed shock that the case is even an issue “when same-sex marriage is legal in this country,” echoing a frequent conservative prediction that legal recognition of same-sex “marriage” would lead to institutions that disagree being forced to recognize them as well.
Wells also suggested that Catholic schools aren’t enforcing the clauses against heterosexual employees who violate church teachings on contraception or cohabitation. But Svoboda said all violations are handled “case-by-case,” and openly-homosexual teachers aren’t automatically fired either. He told the Herald that teachers who violate the contract are given “avenues to reconcile” such as meeting with priests.
“We have many student groups that support safe and caring environments through their activities and demonstrate an understanding and respect for the sanctity of human life and respect for the human person which includes, but not limited to, ethnic and racial backgrounds, abilities or disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.,” district spokesperson Tania Van Brunt said.
She added that the district wouldn’t comment more specifically about the complaints due to privacy concerns.
This dispute comes as religious schools in Alberta are fighting Bill 24’s mandate that independent religious schools allow student-requested Gay-Straight Alliance clubs, and that schools cannot inform parents about their children’s participation in one. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is currently representing 26 schools of Christian, Jewish, and Sikh faiths who are challenging the mandate on constitutional grounds.