Ontario Premier: Catholic schools have no choice but to accept gay clubs
TORONTO, Ontario, July 4, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – All of Ontario’s publicly-funded high schools, Catholic or public, must allow homosexual clubs if students want them, Premier Dalton McGuinty insisted Friday. He also admitted that his government is aiming at changing “attitudes” on homosexuality, a process he says “should begin in the home.”
“I am proud that effective this September, high school students who want their school to have a student support group for LGBT students will have one,” said McGuinty in a statement read by homosexual Toronto Centre MPP Glen Murray at Pride Toronto’s international marshals’ reception. “This is not a matter of choice for school boards or principals. If students want it, they will have it.”
Referencing the backlash against the recent push for gay-straight alliances in the Catholic schools, McGuinty noted that homosexual “support groups” have been “controversial” in some schools. “We need to move beyond that,” he said.
The Premier also insisted his government is not satisfied with merely enshrining acceptance of homosexuality in law. “It’s one thing … to change a law, but it’s quite another to change an attitude,” he said. “Attitudes are shaped by our life experiences and our understanding of the world.”
“That should begin in the home and extend deep into our communities, including our schools,” he added.
McGuinty’s statement follows a statement from the Ontario Ministry of Education in April, affirming that the homosexual “support groups” cannot help students “reform their sexuality.” That statement led critics to slam the clubs as a clear affront to Catholic teaching: the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the homosexual inclination is “objectively disordered” and calls Christians to seek a well-ordered sexuality.
Nevertheless, after pressure from the government, Ontario’s Catholic schools - with the encouragement of the province’s bishops - began setting up a network of clubs in April with the “primary goal” of combating “bullying related to sexual orientation.” Nancy Kirby, head of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association, has insisted the clubs will not be used to “cure” students struggling with homosexual temptations.
Kirby and the bishops, however, have drawn a line in the sand by insisting they will not allow the clubs to be called ‘gay-straight alliances.’
And, for the moment at least, the government is not pressing them on that. “Premier McGuinty did not use the words GSAs,” MPP Glen Murray told the homosexual magazine Xtra. “I emphasize he also did not say ‘generic support groups or diversity groups’; he said specifically ‘an LGBT support group.’ He did not, however, use the words GSA.”
Leanne Iskander, a high school student in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board, who has helped lead the charge for gay-straight alliances in Catholic schools, told the Toronto Star that she is disappointed. “I don’t think what he’s saying is allowed now is much different from what we have,” she noted.
The Catholic Church insists that pastoral care of people struggling with same-sex attraction be very 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’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote in a 1986 ‘Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons’.
“We wish to make it clear that departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church’s position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.”
This same approach was re-affirmed in a pastoral letter by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops last week on ministry to youth experiencing same-sex attractions. “Avoidance of difficult questions or watering down the Church’s teaching is always a disservice,” it says. “Such attitudes could lead young people into grave moral danger.”