TORONTO, Ontario, December 21, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Despite strong concerns by Catholic parents and groups, Ontario’s Catholic leaders are backing Premier Dalton McGuinty’s controversial anti-bullying bill that seeks to require all publicly-funded schools to set up student-run homosexual anti-bullying clubs.
Nancy Kirby, president of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA), says the province’s Catholic school boards “welcome” the legislation.
Kirby co-signed the April 15th memo with Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto that announced the province’s Catholic schools would be working to develop a network of homosexual anti-bullying clubs. They are expected to release their framework for the clubs early in the new year. The office of Archbishop Collins also informed LifeSiteNews that he will be speaking to the matter early in the new year.
The OCSTA leader voiced her support for McGuinty’s “Accepting Schools Act” in comments to the Ministry of Education, quoted by Education Minister Laurel Broten as she promoted the bill at Queen’s Park on Dec. 7th. According to the most recent OCSTA newsletter, Kirby was photographed with Broten “following the Minister’s News Conference at Queen’s Park regarding proposed anti-bullying legislation.”
The bill, which was tabled Nov. 30th and is undergoing second reading, seeks to impose tougher consequences, including expulsion, for “bullying and hate-motivated actions.”
But it has been slammed by religious groups who say its special emphasis on “sexual orientation” makes it a direct threat to family values and religious freedom.
Last week, the Catholic Civil Rights League issued a statement warning the bill is less about bullying than promoting a “radical understanding” of gender and sexuality. The homosexual clubs envisioned by the government are antithetical to Catholic teaching, they argue.
While Premier McGuinty and Minister Broten have both insisted that Catholic schools will be required to set up “gay-straight alliances,” the legislation itself allows other names for the clubs.
That fact is significant to the Catholic schools, which have opposed the name “gay-straight alliance,” even though their clubs are widely regarded as simply GSAs with a “Catholic name”.
Catholic leaders have suggested the anti-bullying clubs can be implemented to support homosexual students without actually affirming homosexuality itself.
But Kirby has insisted the clubs will not be used to “cure” students struggling with homosexual temptations. “The groups that we are making available in Catholic schools are not counselling groups for students confused about their sexuality,” she told LifeSiteNews in May.
Catholic teaching, which views homosexual inclinations as “objectively disordered” though only sinful when acted upon, affirms that programs for those afflicted with same-sex attraction must always be clear about the immorality of homosexual behavior.
“No authentic pastoral programme will include organizations in which homosexual persons associate with each other without clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral,” the Vatican wrote in 1986. “The neglect of the Church’s position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.”
In their statement, the Catholic Civil Rights League slammed McGuinty’s bill for its use of the acronym LGBTTIQ to describe the variants of sexual orientation, which they say would introduce “the disputed notion of ‘gender’ as a social construct.”
“A student led club for various strands of the now-identified LGBTTIQ theory of gender cannot be adopted in a Catholic setting,” they write, “since all sexual activities outside of the traditional understanding of marriage are understood to be sinful, and in contravention of Church teaching.”
“Forcing a student-led club on these themes on Catholic boards, in a manner implying approval of the subject matter, would be an affront to Church teaching,” they insist, “and a subversion or infringement upon the denominational guarantees established in the constitution with respect to Catholic schools in Ontario.”
The group warned that the if the bill passes without amendment, it could invite a constitutional challenge.
LifeSiteNews.com did not hear back from the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association by press time.
Find the Catholic Civil Rights League statement here.
President, Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association (OCSTA)
E-mail: [email protected]
To respectfully present your views to the Bishops of Ontario they may be contacted here.