TORONTO, Ontario, August 31, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As trustees at the Toronto Catholic District School Board prepare to pass judgment Wednesday evening on crucial amendments to their controversial equity policy, a pro-family leader is warning of an effort by leadership at the board to “sabotage” the vote after promising it to parents for months.
The amendments, proposed by trustees John Del Grande and Angela Kennedy, are designed to ensure that “equity” and “inclusion” are interpreted consistently with Catholic teaching.
But on Monday, Director of Education Ann Perron and other top-level staff at the board put forward their own amendments.
Suresh Dominic of Campaign Life Catholics says these staff amendments will neutralize the effort to uphold Catholic sexual teaching in the schools. “I fear there may be a sneaky plan to keep the Del Grande/Kennedy amendments from receiving a vote, by beating them to the floor with the neutered recommendations of the unelected staff,” said Dominic.
“Parents and Del Grande/Kennedy were repeatedly promised a fair up or down vote on their amendments by the board,” he added. “If that is denied them by sneaky tactics, it would be a gross violation of the democratic process and dirty politics.”
The vote on the Del Grande/Kennedy amendments was promised by board chair Ann Andrachuk when the board passed the policy in May.
But Del Grande told LifeSiteNews he is concerned about a “campaign to downplay” the need for his amendments, and to make it seem that the equity policy “has already been debated and subject to consultation.”
He says the staff wording “for the most part does not fully address the uniform concerns and provide the strong language and parameters that has been requested by various parent groups, associations, religious leaders etc.”
The Del Grande/Kennedy amendments have been backed by petitions with signatures from nearly 4,000 parents, and have been endorsed by the Toronto chapter of Ontario’s largest Catholic parents group, the Toronto Association of Parents in Catholic Education. They have also been supported by leading Catholic education expert Dr. Robert T. Dixon, and with separate legal opinions from Oakville lawyer Geoff Cauchi and Toronto lawyer Michael Osbourne.
Despite the strong backing from parents, Ward 3 trustee Sal Piccininni slammed the amendments in an interview with the Globe and Mail on Monday. “These amendments are so stupid,” he said. “There’s one in there about ‘leading a Catholic lifestyle.’ It’s guarded, it’s hidden in nice jargon, but basically it’s going after gay students.”
Board vice-chair Jo-Ann Davis also came out against the Del Grande/Kennedy amendments in a Wednesday letter to constituents. Davis claims the amendments imply “that we as a Board may or may not respect human rights.” She also maintains that they would exclude “individuals from coming to our schools and speaking to students because they are of another faith.” However, in this regard, the amendments specifically target those who would seek to “undermine” the Catholic faith.
There are numerous statements in Del Grande/Kennedy amendments upholding Catholic teaching that the staff has replaced with weak or ambiguous language.
Where the Del Grande/Kennedy make a strong statement that the Catholic schools’ denominational rights take precedence over the government’s equity strategy should a conflict appear, the staff amendments change it to imply that a court could indicate otherwise.
The Del Grande/Kennedy amendments also specify clearly that partnerships within the Catholic community should only be welcomed if they “do not undermine or conflict with … the Catholic Church’s moral and doctrinal teachings.” But the staff amendments remove that and simply note that it is the principal’s duty to ensure partnerships support the Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectations and are in line with board policy.
And while the Del Grande/Kennedy amendments state that clubs will only be approved if they “have goals that are not inconsistent with … the Catholic Church’s moral and doctrinal teachings,” the staff amendments merely state that “all school based groups will adhere to the Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectations.”
This last amendment is particularly important in light of the push for “gay-straight alliance” clubs in the Catholic schools. One group of students in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board have already set up an “unofficial” gay-straight alliance at St. Joseph Catholic Secondary School, and another student at Mississauga’s Father Michael Goetz Catholic Secondary School, Anna Tran, told the Globe and Mail they also “need” a gay-straight alliance and hopes to start one in the fall.
Xtra! reported Tuesday that a grade 11 student at St. Joseph’s College School, Clair Purdy, will petition the TCDSB for a gay-straight alliance at the meeting tonight.
The TCDSB’s equity policy, passed earlier this year as part of the Ontario government’s sweeping equity and inclusive education strategy, has sparked an unprecedented mobilization of parents who fear that it will give homosexual activists a foothold in order to further subvert already weak Catholic sexual teaching in the schools.
The board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 31st at 7:00 p.m. at 80 Sheppard Ave. E.
For trustees of the Toronto Catholic District School board click here.
Director of Education, Ann Perron: 416.222.8282 ext. 2296, [email protected]
Catholic Bishops of Toronto Archdiocese:
Most Rev. Thomas Collins, (416) 934-0606, [email protected]
Most Rev. Vincent Nguyen, 416 724-0900, [email protected]
Most Rev. William T. McGrattan, (416) 769-6001, [email protected]
Most Rev. John Boissonneau, (416) 207-4983, [email protected]