WHITEHORSE, Yukon, March 21, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Scott Kent, the Education Minister for the Yukon, has forbidden publicly funded Catholic schools to educate students about the Catholic Church's teachings on homosexuality.
Last week, Yukon Bishop Gary Gordon thought he was complying with the wishes of the Minister by removing a document outlining the Catholic teaching from a Catholic school website, while noting that the teaching would still be given to students. However, Kent this week said that was not good enough. He ordered the teaching to stop in a letter sent to Bishop Gordon March 19.
In comments to Yukon News, Kent said that “religious instructional material and curriculum in the Catholic separate schools,” which are inconsistent with Canadian tolerance laws and policies, “cannot have application in any publicly supported schools in the Yukon.”
“There is some concern over the teachings with regard to homosexuality,” the Minister specified. “That is the one concern that legal counsel in government has identified may be in contradiction to the Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
The Catholic policy in question speaks of the Church’s loving approach to dealing with those experiencing same-sex attraction. The 25-page document, states: “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action.” However the document also quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states that homosexual acts are immoral.
In the March 19 letter, Kent couches his demand under the pretext of having “students feel safe, welcome, and protected at all schools in the Yukon.”
He claims that instruction in Catholic schools in the Yukon offend the “Safe and Caring Schools Policy and the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policy.”
Kent warns that those religious teachings that are “inconsistent with and do not meet the requirements of existing laws and policies cannot have application in any publicly supported schools in the Yukon.”
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While Kent says he’ll give some leeway to specifically Catholic education, the law comes first even if it conflicts with Catholic teaching.
“I recognize that any school-based policy and religious instruction that is developed and implemented for the Catholic separate schools can and should respect broader Catholic values and use language acceptable for those schools; however, it must first and foremost respect and meet the requirements of Yukon Education’s policies and the laws of the Yukon,” the letter said.
The Education Minister suggests that the Catholic teaching policy contravenes not only the Yukon Education policies but “likely other laws in force in the Yukon, such as the Human Rights Act, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and other case law on equality rights.”
Some teachers in the local Catholic high school have also turned on Bishop Gordon. CBC is reporting that “many teachers” at Vanier Secondary School have asked to be transferred.
Katherine Mackwood, the president of the Yukon Teachers' Association told the CBC that teachers are upset with Bishop Gordon’s direction.
LifeSiteNews.com calls to Bishop Gordon and the Education Minister were not returned by press time. Calls to Vanier Secondary School were directed back to the Education Minister’s office.
Scott Kent, Yukon Education Minister
Phone: 867 667-8643
Bishop Gary Gordon of Whitehorse