Saskatchewan NDP push gay-straight clubs on all schools
REGINA, Saskatchewan, May 20, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) –Now it is Saskatchewan’s turn to be subjected to bullying by powerful "sexual minorities," left wing political parties and mainstream news media into promoting homosexuality.
The minority New Democratic Party has introduced a bill in the legislature that would put on the same level the time-honored democratic rights to freedom of religion, conscience and association the right to establish homosexual clubs on school campuses—so-called Gay-Straight Alliances. And not just for public schools but private Christian and state-supported Catholic schools too, despite their principled opposition to homosexuality as banned by Holy Scripture, Church Tradition, and Natural Law.
The Respect for Diversity—Students Bill of Rights Act would lump together as just one “right” all those principles once deemed paramount and available to all people in liberal, pluralistic democracy, “freedom of conscience, opinion and belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly and association.”
But the so-called bill of students’ rights then enumerates as separate and distinct:
“1. The right to have any disability reasonably accommodated; 2. The right to a positive and safe school environment, free of bullying and intimidation; 3. The right to have any concerns about bullying and intimidation, including cyberbullying and other harmful actions dealt with by the school principal.”
And, of course, it upholds the right that Canadians fought for so fiercely at Vimy, Ortona, Normandy, and Kapyong, unbeknownst to themselves, namely, “The right to establish and lead activities and groups that promote a safe and inclusive learning environment, and acceptance of and respect for others, including activities and groups that promote: (i) gender equity and… (v) respect for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions.”
The NDP is all for it. The Saskatchewan Teachers Association is all for it. The United Church is for it. The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix is all for it. Yet the governing, small “c” conservative, Saskatchewan Party, thinks it is unnecessary.
Education Minister Dan Morgan said during the debate on the bill that if schools aren't allowing gay-straight alliances (GSAs), the government may fine them. “We control the funding to the school divisions, and if somebody produces an example where the school division refuses [to establish a GSA], well, we don't need to make a law, we sign the checks.”
But a government backbencher undermined his own minister. Saskatoon MLA Paul Merriman argued that the GSA bill would weaken the autonomy of school divisions, as if defunding them would not. Not only public schools, but Catholic, Christian, and other private schools get government funding in Saskatchewan.
On the other hand GSA campaigner Chandra McIvor, in an interview with the Regina Leader-Post, seemed to admit the lack of evidence for homosexual students being refused GSAs. “The ironic thing is that these youth don't even feel safe enough to share their concerns with their school because of the homophobic and transphobic culture there,” she said. “In other words, few students have asked for GSAs and none has been refused, but this just proves the need for them all the more. These kids aren't speaking up because they're scared of being the kid that causes trouble,” she insisted.
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The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix bought into McIvor’s inverted logic in an unsigned editorial on May 19, arguing, “The very fact that the minister is having trouble getting specifics about such incidents [of students’ requests for GSAs being refused] only underlines the reality of prevailing fears rather than discredits the notion that a problem exists.”
Missing from the debate and from news coverage is the fact that the NDP bill would force Christian schools to establish clubs that defend behavior they condemn. The government’s discretionary policy, on the other hand, would allow such schools to deal with bullying of “sexual minorities” in their own way. Ken Loehndorf , executive director of the Saskatchewan Catholic School Board Association, told LifeSiteNews that while several public schools in Saskatchewan had allowed GSAs to be set up, none of the province’s 120 Catholic schools (all fully tax-supported) had done so.
“We have no official position on gay straight alliances,” said Loehndorf. Any request for a GSA club would be considered on an ad-hoc basis in consultation with the local bishop.
But as far as he knows, no Catholic student has asked for a GSA, and none has been refused. Instead, inquiries from homosexual students have been responded to in other ways, by referral to chaplains, guidance counselors, or to social justice clubs, which in their advocacy for minority rights and justice, could also speak out for the civil rights of “sexual minorities.” All this was suggested in a document prepared for the Catholic system six years ago titled Pastoral Care for Students with Same-Sex Orientation, which became the basis of seminars to which all boards were invited to send staff.
The kind of leeway enjoyed by the Catholic system, which serves 22 percent of the province’s students, would be wiped out by the NDP bill. “There is nothing mandatory at all, right now,” said Loehndorf. “But it is our hope and our objective that we are supporting all our students.” Still, recent talks with the minister of education suggest the government is not as firm as it once was in opposing legislation, said Loehndorf.
The government may be emulating the Progressive Conservative government in Alberta by rejecting the opposition’s bill and then introducing its own bill that allows more manoeuvrability to Christian schools. But that move failed to satisfy the government’s own MLAs. And ultimately the PCs went to down to ignominious defeat on other issues.