TORONTO, Ontario, September 1, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a crucial vote Wednesday night, trustees at Toronto’s Catholic school board rejected amendments to the board’s controversial equity that would have ensured that student clubs be consistent with Catholic moral teachings.
The proposed amendments to the equity policy were considered crucial as Catholic high schools across Ontario face growing pressure to allow student clubs that affirm the homosexual lifestyle.
Meeting attendees said about 100 of the 250 parents – who had packed the room and overflowed into the balcony – ended up “walking out in disgust” as it became obvious that board leadership was working to undermine the amendments, backed by thousands of parents, that had been promised a vote since May.
After strong and rousing speeches backing the amendments from seven of the eight delegations to speak, all but one of the amendments were rejected in favor of last-minute watered-down wording from Director of Education Ann Perron and other senior staff.
“We were not surprised to see so many walk out in disgust. The dirty tricks and sabotage on display were disgusting,” said Suresh Dominic of Campaign Life Catholic. “It is unconscionable that after months of being promised a fair up or down vote on the Del Grande/Kennedy amendments, those amendments were pre-empted by neutered useless staff recommendations.”
Campaign Life Catholic did praise the fact, however, that trustees unanimously passed a key amendment asserting that in cases of apparent conflict between Catholic denominational rights and Ministry of Education policy, “the protection of the denominational aspect takes precedence.”
“This sends a strong message that the Catholic mission is not to be sacrificed or compromised by any claims from gay activists,” said Dominic.
However, the trustees rejected an amendment stipulating that clubs will only be approved if they “have goals that are not inconsistent with … the Catholic Church’s moral and doctrinal teachings.” Instead the board passed a watered down version merely requiring that student groups “adhere to the Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectations.”
The trustees also rejected amendments specifying that teachers should “promote personal conduct or a lifestyle that is consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
The meeting came to a head when trustee Sal Piccinnini jumped to the floor to propose a neutered version of a Kennedy/Del Grande amendment that said partnerships in the Catholic community would only be welcomed if they “do not undermine or conflict with … the Catholic Church’s moral and doctrinal teachings.”
The staff amendment moved by Piccinnini instead simply noted that it is the principal’s duty to ensure partnerships support the Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectations and are in line with board policy.
After Piccinnini’s motion, Del Grande objected and gave an impassioned plea for his original amendment and said with frustration that he was perplexed as to why trustees were not supporting his amendments. He said the policy was dividing the Catholic community.
As trustee Maria Rizzo began arguing against Del Grande, parents shouted from the crowd in frustration with calls for “democracy.” In response, board chair Ann Andrachuk called for a recess. During the break, about 100 hundred of the 250 attendees got up and left.
“When was clapping outlawed?” asked Lou Iacobelli, a retired teacher who served in the board for 32 years. “When they saw that things were going in a different direction, the chair broke it off.”
“The trustees really, with the exception of Kennedy and Del Grande, have not listened to the people,” he added. “And this isn’t just listening to the people in terms of the importance of democracy, it’s defiance of the teachings of the Catholic faith.”
“I was extremely disappointed in the inability of most Trustees to listen, once again, to input from their taxpayer base,” said Teresa Pierre of the Ontario Catholic Parents Association. “This is not over.”
“Parents wanted policies put in place to ensure that our children absorb Catholic teachings in the schools. We didn’t get it,” she continued. “Parents wanted a very simple statement made in the policy that clubs, as law requires, be conformed to the considerations of denomination rights. We didn’t get it.”
Campaign Life Catholic says that they have had calls from concerned parents after yesterday’s vote asking if they know of Catholic private schools.
“The fight’s not over. We encourage parents to continue pushing back and demand that the Catholic faith of their children be protected in the policy,” said Dominic. “We must make sure our voices are heard.”
The TCDSB’s equity policy, passed earlier this year as part of the Ontario government’s sweeping equity and inclusive education strategy, 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.
The Del Grande/Kennedy amendments had been backed by petitions with signatures from nearly 4,000 parents, and were endorsed by the Toronto chapter of Ontario’s largest Catholic parents group, the Toronto Association of Parents in Catholic Education. They were also supported by leading Catholic education expert Dr. Robert T. Dixon, and with separate legal opinions from Oakville lawyer Geoff Cauchi and Toronto lawyer Michael Osbourne.
For trustees of the Toronto Catholic District School board click here.
Director of Education, Ann Perron: 416.222.8282 ext. 2296, [email protected]
Catholic Bishops of Toronto Archdiocese:
Most Rev. Thomas Collins, (416) 934-0606, [email protected]
Most Rev. Vincent Nguyen, 416 724-0900, [email protected]
Most Rev. William T. McGrattan, (416) 769-6001, [email protected]
Most Rev. John Boissonneau, (416) 207-4983, [email protected]