TORONTO, ON August 25, 2011 – As schools re-open across Canada, many League members are involved in situations challenging parental authority in religious education, such as in Quebec, where moves against traditional religious content are extending even to daycares and nursery schools, or controversial curriculum content in public schools, such as in B.C. In Ontario, the requirement for all publicly-funded boards to adopt the provincial government-approved equity and inclusive education policy statement (with templates available for public and Catholic schools) has led to conflicts over concerns that some aspects of the policy concerning sexual orientation could conflict with the teachings of the Church.
While the League expects parents to take the lead in exercising their rights over the education of their children – indeed, many of the groups involved in Catholic education are strongly supported and often led by our members – it is not in our mandate to provide direct leadership in day-to-day matters of Catholic education. We are, however, involved in the Supreme Court of Canada appeal of the mandatory nature of Quebec’s ECR course and have provided tools such as our analysis of how the constitutional guarantees for Catholic schools in Ontario are compatible with genuine equity.
In Toronto, the League was among the signatories to a statement of the Ontario Catholic Parents Association, asking the Toronto Catholic School Board to pass five amendments to its Equity and Inclusive Education policy. One amendment, stating “Where there is an apparent conflict between denominational rights and other rights, the board will favour the protection of the denominational rights,” was passed. Four more amendments did not pass.
Our most recent publication is the Declaration on the Authority of Parents and Guardians in the Education of their Children, prepared by CCRL Western Region Director Sean Murphy. We hope it will prove a useful tool in asserting the responsibilities and rights of parents as the first educators of their children.
A decision in the SCC appeal of Quebec parents seeking an exemption is expected this Fall.
– Article updated Sept. 13, 2011