TORONTO, ON May 28, 2012 – Following two weeks of public hearings, the Ontario Minister of Education, Laurel Broten, has announced amendments to Bill 13 that, if passed, will make it mandatory to allow Gay-Straight Alliances, so named, in all schools where students request them, including Catholic schools.
The League was among the organizations that presented a brief critiquing the anti-bullying legislation to the Ontario Standing Committee on Social Policy. In it, we lauded the effort to make schools more accountable for combatting bullying and stated that Bill 14 (now Bill 80) offers the best framework as it is comprehensive and does not single out any one form of bullying as being more serious than others.
“Ms. Broten’s claim that the hearings saw widespread support for Bill 13 and GSAs is simply incorrect,” said League Executive Director Joanne McGarry. “There was unanimous support for combatting bullying, but a significant number of presenters said that singling out bullying based on sexual orientation is not the way to go about it.”
Of the different groups presenting to the social policy committee between May 7-15, 28 were strongly against bill 13, 15 were in favour, and one had strong preferences for parts of both 13 and 14.
“As we said at the hearings, when parents choose Catholic schools for their children, they do so with the expectation that Catholic teaching will be taught and upheld,” said Ms. McGarry. “Among other things, this means that student clubs should be supervised by adults who are knowledgeable about the Catholic faith. This does not necessarily mean that any topic is off limits, but it does mean that a Catholic school cannot have students directing their own clubs on moral issues by government dictate.”
Bill 13 is expected to have clause-by-clause reading this week, with the vote before the end of spring session. If there is no change to recognize the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of Catholic schools, a court challenge may be anticipated.
League presentation to Standing Committee on Social Policy May 15.
Statement from Cardinal Collins, May 28, 2012
Parents as First Educators petition: Please consider signing and distributing as widely as possible.