TORONTO, May 22, 2013 – The Catholic Civil Rights League today commented on the motion of Toronto Catholic School Trustee Gary Tanuan to address a response to anti-bullying strategies in Toronto’s Catholic schools and use the Ontario Bishops’ and Catholic trustees’ document “Respecting Difference” as the framework for all anti-bullying clubs and activities.
Ontario’s Bill 13, passed last June after considerable controversy, requires all schools to permit student-led GSAs, so-named, if requested by students. The requirement was a key part of the government’s Accepting Schools Act, but was opposed by Catholic stakeholders as being ill-measured, and an infringement on Catholic education rights to instill Catholic teachings within the school. Many Catholic parents and trustees opposed the imposition of GSAs on the basis that a student-led club without adult direction could create problems with upholding Catholic teaching. Many Catholic boards, including the TCDSB, had already adopted policies in favour of the Respecting Difference model (March, 2012).
Any bullying is unacceptable, and the vast majority of Canadians support efforts to address bullying, including cyber bullying, through legislation and efforts by the community at large. To be effective, these efforts require adult supervision and accountability.
A comprehensive anti-bullying policy based on respect for the dignity of the person, which is consistent with Catholic teaching and the teaching of all major religions, would recognize that all students should be free from bullying, without categorization or qualification. It should not be necessary to identify and label various students according to notions of their sexual orientation or gender identity in order to hold bullies to account.
We endorse the Board’s right to manage its own system so as to ensure consistency in all respects with Catholic teaching, and to rely upon the Respecting Difference model as the basis for management on this question.
Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
For further information:
Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244; firstname.lastname@example.org