Dr. Charles McVety of Canada Christian College, Jack Fonseca of Campaign Life Catholics, Rondo Thomas of the Evangelical Association, and Rabbi Mendel Kaplan of the Council of Orthodox Rabbis, spoke at the well-attended media event which was sponsored in the provincial legislature by MPP Frank Klees (Newmarket-Aurora).
They were responding to the Accepting Schools Act which mandates that all public and private schools have gay clubs, whether or not they are called Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs), that advocates claim will help support homosexual students be accepted in their school communities and reduce the baleful effects of bullying. Opponents say these clubs violate the religious teachings of the Christian and orthodox Jewish faiths and that parents who send their children to religious schools are being undercut by a government pushing its own worldview. Kaplan said, “the legislation encroaches on our religious freedom.” Fonseca said the legislation contradicts the Ontario Catholic bishops instruction that there not be GSAs in Catholic schools: “That is a violation of Catholic rights in Ontario.”
Premier Dalton McGuinty responded to news of the press conference by saying that all schools will have to combat bullying and that even Catholic schools have homosexual students and teachers. Fonseca said that is beside the point, as the legislation focuses on anti-gay bullying and ignores more commons forms of bullying behavior against body type and size.
Fonseca questioned the premier’s Catholicism, saying “Dalton McGuinty, unfortunately, is not a great Catholic on moral issues,” noting the Ontario leader supports abortion and same-sex “marriage.” He charged the Premier with using his Catholicism for political purposes to garner votes but then abandons the moral teachings of his faith when in office.
Rondo Thomas of the Evangelical Association noted a pernicious element in the proposed legislation which could prevent private organizations from renting public space at schools if they do not comply with the provincial “code of conduct” which includes non-discrimination. Thomas warned that the province could prevent pro-family groups, including hundreds of evangelical churches that rent school space for their Sunday church services, that oppose same-sex ‘marriage’ and other elements of the gay agenda, from accessing public space.
He said that if the real agenda was to thwart student bullying, this provision makes little sense. The bill, Thomas explained, uses, “a cannon to kill a gnat.”
All four speakers affirmed that current regulations can be used to punish bullying behavior without the social engineering inherent in the Accepting Schools Act. Progressive Conservative MPP Elizabeth Witmer (Waterloo) has introduced a private member’s bill that seeks to raise greater awareness about all bullying and provide greater punishments for bullying in schools.
The Toronto Sun’s provincial affairs columnist Christina Blizzard said, the government’s bill “sounds more like a political statement about gay rights than a piece of legislation.” The bill states in part, “Students need to be equipped with the knowledge, skills, attitude and values to engage the world and others critically, which means developing a critical consciousness that allows for them to take action on making their schools and communities more equitable and inclusive for all people, including LGBTTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, intersexed and questioning) people.”
Blizzard said “the new law has been hijacked by special interests” focusing more on getting GSAs into schools than they are “in dealing with bullying.”