TORONTO, ON Sept. 23, 2011 – The Catholic Civil Rights League is encouraging its members and supporters to take a stronger stand for the education of their children as almost all polls leading up to the October 6 provincial election show that education is not seen as a major issue by most voters.
“We’re aren’t disputing the importance of health care, job creation and other issues in this election, but the right to have Catholic schools that reflect Catholic teaching has been challenged in recent months,” says Joanne McGarry, League executive director.
“The possibility of losing publicly-funded Catholic schools is never far from the surface in Ontario, and there are groups that will use the controversy over equity policies and Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) in schools to push that agenda.”
Throughout Ontario, many Catholic parent groups and teachers have expressed concerns that the province’s requirement for all school boards to adopt an equity and inclusiveness in education (E.I.E.) policy could include provisions relating to homosexuality that are in conflict with Church teaching. Most concerns centre around the provision encouraging gay/straight alliances (GSAs) in high schools, and the assumption that same sex relationships must be accepted on the same basis as opposite sex ones.
The policy, developed by the Ministry of Education with input from numerous groups, ranging from the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario to educational organizations such as the Institute for Catholic Education, is devoted to prohibiting all forms of discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, creed, gender, sexual orientation, and all other prohibited grounds as enumerated in the Ontario Human Rights Code. Templates for boards to use in writing their policies are available for public and Catholic boards. Much of the statement is devoted to promoting equality for all racial, ethnic and income groups and is not controversial. Ontario Ministry of Education policy requires that all boards, public and Catholic, have a written policy by the end of 2012.
Kathleen Wynne, minister of transportation and the former minister of education, has made it clear that she expects Catholic schools to adopt the program completely. “I think that the Catholic boards will all come around. And the premier has been very clear that if students want to form a group that deals with these issues of equity and homophobia, and allows kids from different backgrounds to have conversations about these issues, that those students must be allowed to do that,” she told Xtra magazine, Canada’s leading publication for the homosexual market, in an interview published Sept. 7.
As the first educators of their children, Catholic parents have a right to expect that their schools will not allow clubs, guest speakers or partnerships with organizations that have a primary purpose at odds with Church teaching. Groups devoted to advancing same sex marriage would be an obvious example, and there have been cases where they have spoken in Catholic schools under the umbrella of anti-bullying programs.
“It has been encouraging to see the many Catholic parents and Catholic parent organizations that have been formed around this issue, and their leadership in asserting the need for Catholic schools to maintain their Catholic character,” said Ms. McGarry.
“Candidates should be asked if they support the right of Catholic schools to have equity policies that conform to Catholic teaching.” Among other issues, the League also recommends that voters ask candidates for their position on abortion funding, the use of mandatory union dues for partisan political advocacy and other issues of concern to them.
– Parents primary role in civil liberties asserted, CCRL Western Region, July 11, 2011
For further information:
Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244; firstname.lastname@example.org