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Toronto Catholic trustees claim bishops’ support as they vote down motion to delay Wynne’s sex-ed

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To sign a petition to stop Ontario's graphic sex-ed curriculum, click here.

TORONTO, June 12, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Toronto’s Catholic school board voted down a motion last night that asked the board to request a year’s delay in implementing the Liberal government’s controversial sex-ed curriculum.

The motion, tabled by Angela Kennedy and seconded by Garry Tanuan, was defeated after an hour’s debate by a vote of four to eight. The motion asked for a letter to be sent to the ministry seeking delay on implementing the sex-ed curriculum set be rolled out this September in all Ontario publicly funded schools.

“I am very disappointed that my trustee colleagues have chosen to accept the status quo over the demands of parents,” Kennedy said. “When are we going to stop sitting back and allowing our religious freedoms to be violated without consequence?”

During the debate, Kennedy pointed out that Catholic trustees are responsible for adapting the ministry’s curriculum to reflect Catholic teaching, and that they have the corresponding constitutional right to do so.

Angela Kennedy: “When are we going to stop sitting back and allowing our religious freedoms to be violated without consequence?”

When trustee Barbara Poplawski stated that “already the Ontario bishops have said that this curriculum will go,” and “there’s nothing denominationally against Catholic schools in there,” Kennedy exclaimed, “No, we haven’t heard that! No, that’s not right!”

Poplawski said she expected the bishops would be responsible for the curriculum, but Kennedy disagreed. “It’s our responsibility, not the bishops. We’re elected,” she said, to an ovation from the pro-motion crowd of about 40 people, which earned a rebuke for quiet by chair Mike del Grande.

Trustees Nancy Crawford and Jo-Ann Davis opposed the motion, stating they trusted the bishops and the Institute for Catholic Education to adapt the sex-ed curriculum. Crawford pointed out that Toronto’s Cardinal Thomas Collins “said a few months ago that we would teach… the teachings of the Catholic Church. Period. We have his word on it. Personally, that’s good enough for me.”

But Kennedy repeatedly emphasized that it’s the duty of Catholic trustees to adapt the sex-ed curriculum to Catholic teaching, not the bishops nor ICE.

Trustee Tanuan said the souls of children are at stake. “If there’s nothing wrong with the curriculum, why are we asking ICE to look at it?” He questioned whether the Liberal government’s sex-ed curriculum could even be adapted to conform to the Catholic view of human sexuality. “There’s no Catholic version of Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Trustee Maria Rizzo said the motion was in her opinion a “make work project, when in fact what we’re really all about is the Ministry, who, you know, gives us the money, tells us what to do, and we need to do it.”

Rizzo said there’s been enough consultation on the curriculum, and that she’s read the curriculum and “it was the driest document I have ever read in my entire life.”

Student trustees Hannah McGroarty and Christopher MacDonald both spoke against the motion. “It is important that the kids learn the correct information,” McGroarty said, adding that high school students she talked to “they have all wished they had that type of curriculum when they were in elementary school.”

“We’ve been hearing a lot of rhetoric about the souls of our children tonight, how they’re in jeopardy with the new education,” noted MacDonald. But the new curriculum is necessary, he argued, because “the reality is that children are learning these sorts of things” through the media, friends, older siblings in a “non-educational way.”

The Ontario bishops have asked ICE to adapt the radical sex-ed agenda to Catholic teaching, but according to a June 1 letter ICE sent to the directors of education of Catholic boards, the materials will be written in the summer and not finally approved by the bishops until their October 2015 plenary.

Director of Education Angela Gauthier told the trustees that the “contentious” part of the curriculum, which deals with human sexuality and which in Catholic schools is taught in Theme 3 of the family life program Fully Alive, is not taught until the spring.

And the trustees did agree to Kennedy’s motion to implement board-wide consultations of the Catholic version of the sex-ed curriculum, when ICE has it ready.

Garry Tanuan: “There’s no Catholic version of Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Although the defeated motion asked Catholic trustees to send a letter to the ministry requesting a delay, Mississauga lawyer Geoff Cauchi says that legally, Catholic trustees “don’t have to ask permission” to delay if they need time to adapt the curriculum to Catholic teaching.

Denominational rights are unusual, Cauchi noted, “because you’ve got a split jurisdiction over curriculum” between the ministry and the Catholic trustees.

While the ministry has the right to prescribe curriculum, the Catholic trustees have the exclusive constitutional right to adapt it so that it conforms to Catholic teaching, he said.

So the Catholic trustees can legally say to the ministry: “We claim a constitutional right to adapt, we are asking you to confirm that you do not object to us delaying the implementation of the curriculum” in order to adapt it.

“The ministry has to respect their constitutional right to adapt it, and it would be unreasonable for them to demand that the board implement it as is, in September of 2015,” Cauchi said.

Kennedy and Tanuan noted in a Tuesday statement on the motion that after seeing “so much outcry from parents in both boards” they feel an obligation to stand with parents from public schools who object to kids being taught “to separate sex from loving, committed marital relationships.”

Maria Rizzo: "...what we’re really all about is the Ministry, who, you know, gives us the money, tells us what to do, and we need to do it.”

“If it’s wrong for Catholic kids, then it’s wrong for all kids,” said Kennedy.

In a statement released after the board meeting, Kennedy stressed this again: “Catholic leaders have to look beyond Catholic schools. What about the public schools? Where’s their teaching resource? We can’t repeat what we did during the priestly abuse scandals and focus on the interests of one group,” she said.

Five parent delegations spoke to the board about the sex-ed curriculum, with four asking the board to delay, and a delegation from the Ontario Association of Parents in Catholic Education, the "official" Catholic parents group in Ontario, that opposed the delay.

OAPCE representative Jane Seymour claimed to speak for parents, but refused to speak to LifeSiteNews when asked how many parents OAPCE represented.

Supporting the motion to delay were: Angela Kennedy, Garry Tanuan, Mike Del Grande, and Frank D’Amico.

Voting against requesting a year’s delay of the sex-ed curriculum were: Nancy Crawford, Ann Andrachuk, Maria Rizzo, Jo-Ann Davis, Barbara Poplawski, Sal Piccininni, Patrizia Bottoni, and Joseph Martino.

Find a full listing of LifeSiteNews' coverage of the Ontario government's explicit sex-ed program here.

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