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School Board lawyer bullies faithful Catholic trustees on equity policy stance

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

TORONTO, May 20, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - About 150 Catholic parents and ratepayers opposed to the draft Equity & Inclusion (EIE) policy of the Toronto Catholic School Board, packed the boardroom where trustees were set to vote on the controversial policy last night.  Several parents and trustees expressed outrage upon witnessing the vote being “sabotaged” by a board staff lawyer at the urging of administration.

Prior to the meeting, parents delivered a petition signed by 2,418 Toronto Catholic stakeholders. Petition signers demanded that trustees vote against the draft EIE policy, or amend it with explicit language to protect against a gay agenda that could undermine Catholic doctrine on sexual morality.

At the beginning of the meeting, seven delegations of parents and Catholic stakeholders persuasively laid out the reasons why the draft policy would invite dissenters to undermine Catholic doctrine on homosexuality, due to the vague wording of the policy document.

Following the presentations by parents, Trustee Angela Kennedy read out an amendment to protect Catholic moral teaching and to explicitly affirm that the Catholic Board’s denominational rights “take precedence over human rights protections”. 

Director, Anne Perron, then invited board staff lawyer, Eric Roher, to address trustees. Roher claimed “groups” could sue the trustees and that Dalton McGuinty’s government could punish them collectively if the amendments were added.

“The other issue that you should consider is potential legal liability to the extent that groups could take action against the board saying that we are exposing, or are refusing to ensure that our children and students are treated in an equitable and inclusive manner”, said Roher.

Parents were stunned by the intimidation tactics of the lawyer. Trustee John Del Grande echoed the insult felt by parents when he shot back: “The scare tactics, I don’t think are appropriate”.

Trustee Maria Rizzo also rebuked the legal threats from Roher despite her support of the controversial draft policy. “I don’t agree with Mr. Roher, I do believe that it’s within our right to make any amendments and vote on those amendments, especially as it refers to policy,” she said.

The majority of trustees expressed they did not wish to vote on the amendments for fear of liability.

Trustee Kennedy, expressed her frustration with the attempt to remove the discussion from the public eye. “There seems to be a lack of transparency,” she said. “I don’t agree with the fact that we were asked to put our amendments in a non-public meeting. We’re a public board. This is a democracy. We’re representing the people. We’ve got to tell everybody including our trustee colleagues, including our staff and our lawyers, exactly what we want to be considering here. …  But to do things undercover, on the telephone, in a non-public meeting, I think is wrong…”

The Chair, Ann Andrachuk, cut Kennedy off, and argued sharply that nothing was being done “under cover” and claimed that making decisions about the amendments outside the board meeting was entirely appropriate.

A spirited rebuttal from Trustee Kennedy caused the parent audience to erupt with applause: “I think that this is the proper way to do it,… it’s the proper place, right here, to put forward our amendments. I don’t agree with deferral. I don’t agree with passing the policy [or] with deferring our amendments”

In spite of the efforts of Trustees Del Grand and Kennedy, the Board passed the un-amended draft policy 7 to 4.  Trustees Patrizia Bottoni and Frank D’Amico also voted no.  Absent from the vote was Trustee Barb Poplawsi who voted in favour of Del Grande’s amendments at a prior board meeting. Trustee Enverga seemed supportive of the pro-Catholic amendments, but also voted to defer consideration of the amendments until comment can be given by the Director’s legal counsel.

A motion was passed to bring the amendments back again for a separate vote on June 16, after legal counsel review.

One parent who asked that his name not be published, told LifeSiteNews that after watching the intimidation tactics of Eric Roher, he does not trust the advice that will be given to trustees by internal legal counsel. “It looked to me that this guy was determined to push the government agenda, regardless of what rights trustees possess”.

One of the speakers at the beginning of the meeting was former homosexual activist Alan Yoshioka. He is the spokesman for Reclaim the Rainbow - Toronto, a policy group of Toronto Catholics who have experience of same-sex attraction, either in themselves or among their loved ones, and who are loyal to the Catholic Magisterium.

“We are disappointed that the board saw fit to pass a policy that leaves room for interpretations that would undermine schools’ capacity to present, and indeed to embody, the fullness of the Church’s teaching,” said Yoshioka. “Even so, we hope that next month the board will use its authority to pass amendments that would limit opportunities for the community’s abhorrence of bullying to be exploited by parties who, for whatever reason, would deprive students of the life-giving teaching of the Church on chastity and the nature of human sexuality.”

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Lisa Bourne

Parents say they’re now calling four-year-old son a girl

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

OAKLAND, CA, July 7, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- An Oakland, California, couple is giving their four-year old son the green light to identify as a girl.

Jack Carter Christian, the son of Mary Carter and James Christian, will now be known as “Jackie” and be allowed to dress and act as a little girl.

The family acknowledged they were already letting the boy wear his older sister’s dresses on a regular basis and also that he liked to wear pink boots. James Christian said he thought for a long time that it was a phase his son would get over.

Carter detailed in an NPR interview the conversation with her son that led to the decision to allow him to live as a girl.

“Jackie just looked really, really sad; sadder than a 3-and-a-half-year-old should look,” Carter said. “This weight that looked like it weighed more than she did, something she had to say and I didn’t know what that was.”

“So I asked. I said, ‘Jackie, are you sad that you’re not going to school today?’ And Jackie was really quiet and put her head down and said ‘No, I’m sad because I’m a boy.’”

Carter continued speaking about the details of the day she encouraged her son to act upon the emotion he’d expressed.

 “You’re really not happy being a boy?” Carter queried her son.

“I thought a little bit longer and I said, ‘Well, are you happy being you?’” said Carter. “And that made Jackie smile. And I felt like for that moment that was all that really mattered. That was ‘The Day. ”

It was then that Carter proceeded to a Walgreen’s drug store and purchase elastic hair bands picked out by her son to pull his hair into little ponytails, something that offered apparent satisfaction for mother and son.

“There she was, in these cast-off Little Mermaid pajamas and five pony tails that are sticking out of her head kind, of like twigs, and this smile on her face and I’ve never seen such a happy child,” Carter stated. “To go from maybe an hour before this, this child who looks so sad, to that- pure joy, just pure joy, right there.”

Carter and Christian are one of a number of couples turning up in media stories saying that their young children will no longer live life as their biological gender. The confusion they describe is a disorder classified by the American Psychological Association as gender dysphoria.

San Diego parents Jeff and Hillary Whittington appeared in late May with their six-year old daughter Ryland, who is identifying as a boy, at the 6th annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast. Milk, the first openly homosexual candidate elected to office in San Francisco as City Commissioner, was also notorious for preying sexually upon underage, drug-addicted, runaway boys, and was murdered by a political rival in 1978.

Massachusetts couple Mimi and Joe Lemay have also decided to allow their five-year-old daughter Mia, now going by Jacob, to live as a transgender child, turning to NBC News with the specifics.

They said an April DailyMail.com report that it was “his” choice to become transgender, and also that they shared their story hoping to prove there is no such thing as “being too young” to identify as transgender.

“I realized he had never really been Mia,” Mimi Whittington said. “That had been a figment of my imagination.”

Author and public speaker Walt Heyer, who underwent sex reassignment surgery to become a woman and then later returned to living as a man, told the Daily Caller children cannot be born as one gender and identify as another by accident. He now performs outreach to those experiencing gender confusion.

“There’s a lot of questions here. Kids are not born transgender,” Heyer said. “Childhood developmental disorder that comes out of some event or series of events or abuse or neglect or trauma or overbearing mother or father or someone or a lot of times its sexual abuse.”

Heyer said the experience of having parents or caretakers entertain the idea of gender confusion is at issue and this is what happened to him.

“My grandmother kept cross-dressing me and loving on me as a girl and not as the boy God made,” he said.

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Lisa Bourne

Utah man faked anti-gay ‘hate crimes’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

July 7, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – A Utah man who faked a series of anti-gay “hate crimes” may face charges after his actions were debunked by rural authorities.

Rick Jones said someone beat him, leaving facial and head bruising, and carved a homosexual slur in his arm, part of a series of staged attacks that spanned from April to June.

Jones, 21, told a local TV news station in June he believed he was being targeted because he was homosexual.

Jones is also implicated in spray-painting a slur on his family’s home, throwing a rock and a Molotov cocktail through his home’s window, spray-painting the family pizza business, and also breaking in and stealing $1,000 from the business.

The Millard County Sheriff’s office found discrepancies with evidence in the case and Jones ultimately admitted to perpetrating the harassment himself.

Jones could face charges of filing a false report and reckless burning.

His lawyer said the incidents were a cry for help geared toward the people close to Jones, and that Jones didn’t realize how much attention they would get.

Attorney Brett Tolman said that Jones has since begun treatment for mental health.

Tolman said his client did not have any criminal intent and praised the community’s response to the fake accusations, saying that the outpouring of support after the hate crime claims became public still was a good message.

Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox was one who had publicly declared his support after the false accusations surfaced. Cox said Tuesday he’s relieved the allegations weren’t true, and expressed concern for Jones and his family.

Tolman also used the faked crimes as evidence that gays face discrimination.

“I think it’s such good evidence of the difficulties members of the gay community deal with,” said Tolman, “and some make better choices than others.”

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U.S. senator: Individuals don’t have religious freedom, just churches

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By Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 7, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment applies only to churches, not to individuals, a U.S. senator said on national television recently.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-WI – the nation's first openly lesbian elected to the U.S. Senate – addressed the Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision on June 27 on MSNBC's Up with Steve Kornacki.

"Should the bakery have to bake the cake for the gay couple getting married?” the host asked. “Where do you come down on that?"

Baldwin responded that the First Amendment gave Americans no right to exercise religion outside the sanctuary of their church, synagogue, or mosque.

“Certainly the First Amendment says that in institutions of faith that there is absolute power to, you know, to observe deeply held religious beliefs. But I don’t think it extends far beyond that,” she said.

Sen. Baldwin then likened the issue to the Obama administration's contentious HHS mandate, requiring employers to furnish contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs to female employees with no co-pay.

“We’ve certainly seen the set of arguments play out in issues such as access to contraception,” Baldwin said. “Should it be the individual pharmacist whose religious beliefs guides whether a prescription is filled, or in this context, they’re talking about expanding this far beyond our churches and synagogues to businesses and individuals across this country.”

“I think there are clear limits that have been set in other contexts, and we ought to abide by those in this new context across America.”

That view contrasts with a broad and deep body of law saying that individuals have the right to exercise their religion freely under the First Amendment, not merely to hold or teach their beliefs.

“At the Founding, as today, 'exercise' connoted action, not just internal belief,” wrote Thomas C. Berg, the James L. Oberstar Professor of Law and Public Policy at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

That body of cases shows the First Amendment is an individual, not merely a corporate, right.

Further, the extent – and the constitutionality – of the HHS mandate is far from settled.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has won 28 injunctions against the ObamaCare regulation and lost six.

The most significant statement to date has been the U.S. Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision last June, when the justices ruled 5-4 that closely held corporations do, indeed, exercise conscience protections under the terms of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

"We reject HHS's arguments that the owners of the companies forfeited all RFRA protection when they decided to organize their businesses as corporations rather than sole proprietorships or general partnerships," they added. "The plain terms of RFRA make it perfectly clear that Congress did not discriminate in this way against men and women who wish to run their business as for-profit corporations in the manner required by their religious beliefs."

However, the justices did not invoke the First Amendment's guarantee to freedom of religion – the “first freedom” that many say has been increasingly constricted under the Obama administration. The president rhetorically has spoken only of the “freedom of worship,” while conservatives say the “free exercise” clause grants Americans the right to practice their religion inside or outside church, in any relevant aspect of their lives, subject only to the most extreme provisions.

The RFRA holds that the government may not substantially burden any religious belief without having a compelling governmental interest.

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