TORONTO, Ontario, April 14, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A symposium to discuss the Toronto Catholic school board’s planned policy on equity and inclusive education is now set for Monday evening. The purpose of this symposium is to solicit feedback from Catholic parents and ratepayers about the draft equity policy.
The event had been postponed last month, with suggestions that the decision was due to concerns about a panelist who openly promotes acceptance of homosexuality.
Chris D’Souza, one of the government’s key promoters of its controversial equity and inclusive education strategy, has emphasized that “equity” involves the elimination of “heterosexism,” which he defines as “the assumption that everyone is or should be heterosexual and that heterosexuality is the only normal, natural sexual orientation.”
He told attendees at a government conference on the equity strategy in January that he is proud homosexual men can get “married” in Canada, and that he supports surrogacy so homosexuals can have families.
He later reiterated his support for homosexual marriage in an interview with the Catholic Register, but added that he does not promote gay marriage to students. “I’ve said that as a citizen of Canada, I have no problem with them removing that barrier for that demographic but I’ve never needed to throw my support, never been an advocate of that,” he said.
The symposium will take place Monday, April 18th at 7p.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Secondary School. It will feature a video presentation by Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, a panel discussion involving D’Souza, Dr. Moira McQueen of Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, and Dr. Ashleigh Molloy of the Transformation Institute, and some time for small group discussion of the policy. Parents and ratepayers are welcome to attend and provide their views on the draft equity policy to the school board.
The board will also hold a consultation session on April 27th at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School.
The Toronto Catholic District School Board told LifeSiteNews previously that D’Souza advocates for their desire to “eliminate prejudicial barriers” and their view that “we need to see ‘Christ in every child’ and act accordingly within our traditions.”
An education professor at York University and the former equity officer at the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board, D’Souza has delivered over 1,400 workshops across Ontario in the last eight years, including presentations to over a dozen Catholic boards.
The school board also noted that D’Souza was introduced by a London bishop at the Windsor Catholic school board, though LifeSiteNews was unable to verify that with the Diocese of London.
The board’s draft equity policy has raised concerns among parents and pro-family groups after the board voted down several amendments specifying that equity and inclusion must be implemented “in a manner consistent with the Catholic faith and Catholic moral teaching.” Trustees are expected to pass the policy sometime this spring.
Teresa Pierre, who has four children in the school board, said she is concerned that “the way that it’s handled in the schools should be guided by policies that are formed in accordance with the Catechism.”
Teacher’s training should “be shaped to respond empathetically to individuals as well as to be intellectually informed by the Magisterium’s teachings about sexuality,” she said.
The policy is a response to the government’s mandatory equity and inclusive education strategy, which has been criticized by pro-family groups because it requires boards to recognize “sexual orientation” as a grounds for non-discrimination. They say it grants leverage to homosexual activists who want to subvert Catholic doctrine in the Catholic schools.
Last Friday, the government told LifeSiteNews that clubs for homosexuals, which the government is requiring in the Catholic schools, are not allowed to help students “reform their sexuality.”
In addition to D’Souza’s invitation, concerns in Toronto were heightened by the fact that the board opened a January meeting on the policy with a prayer by a well-known dissident nun calling the homosexual inclination a “manifestation of [God’s] goodness.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church insists that those with homosexual inclinations be “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” and condemns “unjust discrimination” towards them, but also calls homosexual inclinations “objectively disordered,” and homosexual acts “acts of grave depravity” (2357-2359).
Some have claimed that Catholic boards are obligated to implement the government’s equity strategy because the province made it mandatory. However, critics point out that the Catechism states that citizens are “obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel” (2242).
The Toronto Catholic District School Board’s draft equity policy is available here.
Most Reverend Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto
1155 Yonge Street
Toronto (ON) M4T 1W2
Tel: (416) 934-3400 #609
Fax: (416) 934-3452
E-mail: [email protected]
Ann Perron, Director of Education
80 Sheppard Avenue East
North York, ON M2N 6E8
Phone:416-222-8282, ext. 2296
E-mail: [email protected]
Peter Jakovcic (416) 512-3401 [email protected]
Ann Andrachuk (416) 512-3402 [email protected]
Sal Piccininni (416) 512-3403 [email protected]
Patrizia Bottoni (416) 512-3404 [email protected]
(416) 512-3405 [email protected]
Frank D’Amico (416) 512-3406 [email protected]
John Del Grande (416) 512-3407 [email protected]
Tobias Enverga (416) 512-3408 [email protected]
Jo-Ann Davis (416) 512-3409 [email protected]
Barbara Poplawski (416) 512-3410 [email protected]
Angela Kennedy (416) 512=3411 [email protected]
Nancy Crawford (416) 512-3412 [email protected]
Natalie Rizzo (416) 512-3413 [email protected] (Student trustee)