Patrick Craine

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Toronto Catholic student trustee invokes bishops to defend ‘giftedness of sexual orientation’

Patrick Craine
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To register for the Toronto Pro-Life Forum, which will discuss the homosexual equity policy being imposed on Ontario’s schools, click here.

TORONTO, Ontario, June 21, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) -  At the June 16 Toronto Catholic school board (TDCSB) meeting on their controversial “equity” policy, the board’s student trustee invoked the authority of Ontario’s bishops to urge the Catholic schools to implement “anti-homophobia” classes for elementary and high schools that recognize the “giftedness of sexual orientation” (see video). Two other presenters at the meeting similarly invoked the bishops in opposition to parents’ demands for more explicit protections for authentic Catholic teaching.

In her address, student trustee Natalie Rizzo backed the homosexual “anti-bullying” clubs to which many parents were objecting.  “Our schools should be able to allow and provide student and/or teacher-generated support, again in line with the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, lending itself to the inclusion of students in Catholic schools who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered, by providing safe spaces for students to discuss issues surrounding homophobia and the giftedness of sexual orientation,” she said.

Under threat of a withdrawal of funding to Catholic schools by the Ontario Liberal government the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario reluctantly approved the homosexual ‘anti-bullying’ clubs in April and similarly approved an ‘equity’ policy addressing ‘sexual orientation’ last October.

Passage of the Toronto Catholic school board’s equity policy is considered a watershed advancement of homosexual activism in Ontario’s education system. The Toronto board is the last and by far the largest Catholic board to implement the policy as part of the Ontario government’s sweeping “equity and inclusive education strategy”.

The TDCSB, with over 93,000 students, is also considered to be one the largest school boards in North America with an annual projected budget for 2011-2012 of over $1 billion.

The board’s equity policy 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.  Last month, parents submitted a petition signed by 2,418 Catholic stakeholders demanding the equity policy be rejected or amended

At the Thursday, June 16 meeting an additional petition signed by over 1,000 Chinese Catholic parishioners from the Toronto Chinese Catholic Task Force was submitted to the board in favour of the amendments to strengthen the Catholicity of the equity policy.

Over 150 parents came out to Thursday’s meeting, where eight amendments designed to protect Catholic teaching in the schools were to be considered.  Four of those amendments passed and the others have been delayed.

Amendment supporters were hoping that the remaining four amendments would be dealt with at a special board meeting scheduled for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. since the next meeting will not take place until August. However, a board staff person advised LifeSiteNews that the amendments would in fact not be discussed on Thursday and will be brought up as originally scheduled at the August meeting of trustees.

At last Thursday’s meeting, proponents of the policy opposed any attempts to amend it by invoking the fact that the policy had already been approved by the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario.

Kelly Anne Belton from Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts and the lone parent to speak in favour of the policy, claimed that passing the amendments, which in fact merely commit the board to uphold the Church’s teachings, would turn the board’s policies into a “bully.”  “Bowing to requests to narrow the scope of such a protective policy to serve the needs of one sector of the parent population over serving what is in the best interests of the students first, is completely outside the scope of your mandate,” she told the trustees.

She said she was “confused” by the calls for the policy to better reflect the teachings of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.  “Why is it appropriate for us to question the teachings of our bishops, who are our representatives of the Magisterium in Ontario?” she asked.  “The policy was written in consultation with the Ontario conference of bishops - that is the Magisterium.  It is impertinent for us to question the decisions that they have made.” (See video of Belton’s presentation)

Similarly, board superintendent Patrick Keyes said, “One of the important things to understand about the template that we used is it was endorsed by the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, which might be considered our magisterium, our local magisterium, so we are concerned anytime we make a change.”

Critics however have noted that in addition to the fact that the Ontario bishops were acting under duress, their documents conflict with Vatican statements calling blanket non-discrimination policies based on ‘sexual orientation’ flawed, and specifically noting that groups for homosexuals persons must always clearly state that “homosexual activity is immoral”. 

Parents have expressed concern that even in Catholic schools their children, by being faithful to Catholic teachings in the area of homosexuality by themselves, face bullying and intimidation by other students and school staff. 

In her address to the board, Natalie Rizzo, the student trustee, called for school handbooks to include a definition of “homophobia” and the process of consequences for students who “perpetuate homophobia.”  She also said students “feel strongly” that the board allows the approved clubs for homosexual students to be named “gay-straight alliances” or whatever students prefer.

See Natalie Rizzo’s full report from the Catholic Student Leadership Impact Team here. The Anti-Homophobia Education recommendations under the heading “Inclusion and Belonging” begin on page 7 of the student trustee report (or page 41 of the entire meeting agenda).

To register for the Toronto Pro-Life Forum, which will discuss the homosexual equity policy being imposed on Ontario’s schools, click here.

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