TORONTO, May 27, 2013 ( – A teacher in Toronto’s Catholic school board shocked parents and ratepayers last week when she declared that joining a gay-straight alliance is a “perfect outcome” for Catholic students.

Teresa Kelly, a technology teacher at Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School, gave a five-minute speech Thursday at a Toronto Catholic District School Board meeting that dealt with trustee Garry Tanuan’s motion to ban GSAs.

According to the teacher, being part of a GSA is “the embodiment of a perfectly-formed Catholic conscience.”


“As a Catholic teacher, I feel that [Thomas Merton’s GSA] provides a beautiful place that is safe, that is inclusive, and that protects vulnerable children,” said Kelly, who’s been in the board for over 20 years.

She maintained that there is “no political agenda” behind GSAs, and described Tanuan’s motion as “archaic.”

Kelly said in her speech that she was speaking at the “invitation” of Director of Education Bruce Rodrigues. After a break, however, she returned to the microphone to say she had misspoken and had merely been granted “permission” to speak by the director.

Reacting to Kelly’s statements, Damian Goddard, a spokesman for the Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance and a parent and ratepayer in the school board, said Catholic teaching is clear on the issue. “GSAs don't belong in Catholic schools. GSAs don't belong in any schools,” he insisted.

Responding to Kelly’s statement about the “perfectly-formed Catholic conscience,” the pro-family advocate pointed to the section on conscience in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

“Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened,” reads paragraph 1783. “The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings.”

According to Goddard, “GSAs put our children in the ‘near occasion of sin’. Full stop.”

Tanuan’s motion was proposed in response to Bill 13, the Ontario Liberal government’s controversial “anti-bullying” legislation that forced schools to allow GSAs.

Though Ontario’s bishops and the Catholic school system had opposed GSAs and developed their own anti-bullying framework in line with Church teaching, after the bill passed they agreed to allow GSAs.

The Catholic schools’ embrace of GSAs occurred despite Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins’ assertion that the bill constituted a “very real” threat to religious freedom that “overrides the deeply held beliefs” of Catholics.

Toronto’s Catholic trustees rejected Tanuan’s motion on Thursday in a 7-4 vote, however, with some stating that they support GSAs in the schools and others expressing fear that adopting it would set up a showdown with the government.

Contact the Toronto Catholic District School Board trustees here.

To contact the Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins:

Office of the Archbishop
Catholic Pastoral Centre
1155 Yonge Street
Toronto, Ontario, M4T 1W2
Telephone: (416) 934-0606, ext. 609
Fax: (416) 934-3452
Email: [email protected]