EDMONTON, Alberta, March 17, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The Edmonton Catholic School Board passed a new gender policy on Tuesday in a 5-2 vote that appears to please no one. The policy, while a big improvement on their earlier one, still misrepresents Catholic teaching, while also enraging LGBTQ activists.
The page-and-a-half document is a major revision of an earlier September proposal which would have allowed boys who identify as female into girls’ change rooms and to play on girls’ sports teams.
The revised policy, however, simply states that the board is committed to providing “all students” with a “fully inclusive school community” and an “environment that is free from discrimination of any type including but not limited to discrimination based on race, color, gender identity, gender expression, age, physical, and mental characteristics, nationality, sexual orientation, family status, or marital status.”
The policy states in its preamble that since “all children are unique, loved by God, and created in God’s image, then “all human beings are inherently sacred and must be treated with dignity and respect.”
It goes on, however, to state what the policy drafters assumed the Catholic Church teaches in this regard.
“The Catholic Church teaches that: … respect for the fundamental rights of the person, demands that every type of discrimination, whether based on sex, race, colour, social condition, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, language or religion is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent.”
But nowhere, however, does the Catholic faith teach that discrimination based on “gender identity and expression, sexual orientation” must be “overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent.”
While the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “every sign of unjust discrimination in their [same-sex attracted people] regard should be avoided,” official Church documents have pointed out how the word “unjust” means that there can be a “just” form of discrimination against persons actively engaged in the homosexual lifestyle. Such examples of “just” discrimination include the Catholic Church's refusal to call the partnership of two active homosexuals “marriage, or not allowing children to be adopted by such partners, or not allowing active homosexuals to become priests.
The Catholic Church holds that homosexuality is contrary to God's plan for sexuality since homosexual acts are “contrary to the natural law” in that they “close the sexual act to the gift of life.” The Church teaches, moreover, that such acts are “acts of grave depravity” and that “under no circumstances can they be approved.”
A 1992 Vatican document by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith concretely spelled out a few areas in which such discrimination is permissible. “There are areas in which it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account, for example, in the placement of children for adoption or foster care, in employment of teachers or athletic coaches, and in military recruitment,” the document, titled Some Considerations Concerning the Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons, stated.
In a 2004 document from the same Congregation, Cardinal Ratzinger, prior to becoming Pope Benedict, made it clear that while Christians must avoid “unjust discrimination against homosexual persons,” he added that when legal recognition is given to same-sex relationship and referred to as “marriage,” then “clear and emphatic opposition is a duty.”
Marni Panas, a transgendered activist who had been campaigning for a policy closer to the first draft, said the new policy will do nothing to advance LGBTQ students in their schools.
“Nothing has changed, and it's very disappointing,” Panas told CBC News. “The board, by voting for the policy, missed an opportunity to be on the right side of a crucial human rights issue,” he added.
The new policy, which lists no specific ways in which LGBTQ students will be accommodated, comes as a surprise given that in January, trustees in the Edmonton Board publicly defied the leadership of Alberta’s bishops on the gender issue by slamming a letter from Calgary Bishop Fred Henry that had denounced the NDP government's new “gender identity” guidelines as “totalitarian” and “anti-Catholic.”
Later that same month, Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith reprimanded the Catholic trustees for betraying Catholic parents who elected them.
“There, for too long now, we have witnessed the inability of trustees to function in a cohesive way or speak with a unified voice. The words and actions of some trustees, rather than defending and upholding all that is good in Catholic education, have caused harm and hostility. In so doing, they have betrayed the trust placed in them by Catholic electors,” he said at that time. Given that the new policy is much closer to Catholic teaching than the previous draft, it would seem that Archbishop Smith has managed to influence the trustees in a positive manner.
LifeSiteNews reached out to Archbishop Smith for comment on the new policy, but did not receive a response by press time.
Education Minister David Eggen — who in January released the controversial “best practices” guidelines that he expects all school boards in the province, including Catholic ones, to use in forming mandatory transgender policies that must be in place this month — says that he is planning to provide feedback on the board’s new policy.
“I will review it after it has been submitted. I will then provide feedback, keeping in mind the government's commitment to ensuring all students are guaranteed basic human rights, and that all schools are welcoming, caring, respectful and safe,” he told reporters.
Draft of 2015 policy