Catholic parents fight separate system to maintain moral teaching

Ontario bishops have issued a memo urging Catholic school boards to set up clubs explicitly aimed to counter “bullying related to sexual orientation,” even though they banned the establishment of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) at Catholic schools just months ago. Meanwhile, parents at the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) are speaking out against a draft equity policy formulated in line with the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy (EIES) that they fear fails to affirm Catholic teaching about homosexuality in schools.

Sections 2357 and 2358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church state that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” and that “under no circumstances can they be approved,” although homosexuals “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.” The Vatican also warned that recognizing “sexual orientation” as a category to protect from discrimination “can easily lead to regarding homosexuality as a positive source of human rights.”

In 2007, the Ministry of Education under openly lesbian Minister Kathleen Wynne created, with the help of gay lobby groups and activists such as EGALE Canada and Chris D’Souza, a Catholic equity trainer who supports same-sex ‘marriage’ and once said that those who do not agree with recognizing sexual orientation as a prohibited ground for discrimination should “move to another country where they don’t have the laws that protect us.”

A spokesman for Campaign Life Catholics (CL Catholics) told The Interim that the policy advocates “a militant gay agenda” and seeks to “undermine and overthrow Catholic moral doctrine in the area of homosexuality.” According to Suresh Dominic, the policy mandates accepting, and not just tolerating “diversity” and even pushes schools to celebrate gay pride parades, create GSAs (“despite the fact they are known to be centres of homosexual activism”), and use texts written by homosexuals. Self-identifying homosexual students are to “see themselves reflected in the curriculum,” which could involve celebration of the homosexual lifestyle. In another document presenting guidelines for policy implementation, teachers are encouraged to “modify personal beliefs … that are inconsistent with … inclusive education principles.”

As of May, 28 out of 29 Catholic school boards have implemented the Catholic version of the EIES approved by Ontario bishops which, according to CL Catholics, has “no teeth at all to protect the faith.” One of the most noted cases was the Halton Catholic District School Board, where a new slate of trustees, under pressure from gay lobbying and the mass media, rejected the school’s previous authentically Catholic equity policy that was in line with Catholic teachings.

There are also grave concerns about the bishops’ curriculum advisor, Sister Joan Cronin, the executive director of the Institute for Catholic Education (ICE), especially after, in a Catholic workshop in January on “religious accommodation,” she did not protest against her co-presenter’s use of a book that promoted homosexual relationships. Sr. Cronin also participated in a prayer attacking the Church’s teaching on homosexuality at another workshop.

A group of parents, the Concerned Catholic Parents of Ottawa, wrote a letter to all Ontario bishops advocating the rejection of the EIES or revision of the bishops’ Catholic template. They also demanded the removal of Sr. Cronin and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, the Ontario teachers’ union, whose leadership promotes GSAs and supports EGALE, from ICE.

On April 15, Ontario bishops released a memo co-authored by Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, president of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, and Nancy Kirby, president of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association, permitting homosexual anti-bullying clubs and announcing the future creation of a committee “to assist Catholic school boards with this anti-bullying initiative.” In the opinion of Campaign Life Catholics, the memo may have been issued because “the ministry made some threats … (they) likely fear they will lose tax dollars.” Furthermore, they “have been given bad counsel” by Sr. Cronin.

However, on May 17, addressing an event marking the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, OECTA President James Ryan, admitted that anti-bullying clubs are Gay-Straight Alliances by another name.

In an interview with the homosexualist magazine Xtra!, Ontario Education Minister Leona Dombrowsky, a former head of a Catholic school board, said separate school boards do not have the right to refuse the creation of GSAs in their schools.

Now, notes CL Catholics’s Dominic, the TCDSB is “one of the final stands that can be used to reject the government … mandate.”

Three consultation meetings were held this Spring: the first one was with students and the last two were with concerned Catholic parents and other stakeholders. During two meetings in April, most parents criticized the board’s draft equity policy and demanded that it be amended. At the April 27 meeting, stakeholders proposed that gay clubs should be forbidden from Catholic schools, bullying should be dealt with generically, the Catechism’s sections on homosexuality must be taught when talking about sexual orientation, and more protection should be granted to teachers who uphold Catholic teaching.

To CL Catholics, the principal concern about the implementation of the equity policy at Catholic schools is “the faith of Catholic youth.” If they are led “to reject a core doctrine … they will eventually question other Catholic doctrines.” This may encourage them to leave the Church and lose their faith. Thus, CL Catholics has undertaken to “study the government documents and present our assessment of where they are a threat to the faith” so that parents can decide to take action on these principles. CL Catholics is calling on all concerned parents and ratepayers to lobby the trustees, Archbishop Collins, the director of education at TCDSB, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, opposition leader Tim Hudak, and their provincial MPP to ask for the retraction of the equity policy.