HALTON, Ontario, January 12, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - After pressure from homosexual activists, a committee of the Halton Catholic District School Board voted Tuesday night to recommend the scrapping of a policy that required schools to be faithful to Church teaching in the area of homosexuality.
In a 6-2 vote, the committee - composed of all nine trustees - recommended the rescinding of the current equity policy, which had won praise from pro-family groups, and replace it temporarily with a controversial Catholic template policy.
The effort was launched by trustee Paul Marai, a homosexual activist elected in October, who was supported by lobby groups such as Egale and Change.org.
“Does Egale now have more influence on the board’s teaching on morals than the Catholic bishops and the Catholic community?” asked Alissa Golob of Campaign Life Catholics. “By voting to rescind their policy conforming to the Catholic Church’s teaching, the Halton board has voted to go against the faith, the teachings of the Church on homosexuality.”
“They’ve also put themselves in direct disobedience to the Ontario bishops with regards to gay-straight alliances,” she added.
The mainstream media, Marai, and other homosexual activists have focused discussion on the board’s decision to ban gay-straight alliances (GSAs), a policy that was instituted based on a directive from the Ontario bishops; but the targeted policy does much more than that.
It includes explicit wording to prevent instruction that undermines Catholic teaching. It also requires that teachers consult the Catholic Catechism’s teaching on homosexuality (paragraphs 2357-2358) when they address the topic, makes no mention of “sexual orientation,” and notably inserts “unjust discrimination” where the template policy had merely condemned “discrimination.” The policy also emphasizes that “equity” and “inclusion” must be interpreted in accordance with Catholic teaching, and are not acceptable unless they do.
The Catholic template policy that would replace the existing one, on the other hand, has drawn sharp criticism in part because it recognizes “sexual orientation” as a prohibited ground for discrimination, in direct opposition to a Vatican directive.
The Halton policy’s fate is expected to be determined by a vote at the board’s next meeting, January 18th, though there are hints that it could be delayed to February.
The board defended the policy as recently as Friday, saying they oppose GSAs because they “necessitate students to self-identify according to sexual orientation,” while the Church “neither defines nor catalogues [people] according to their sexual orientation.”
Trustee Jane Michael, who voted in favor of the current policy Tuesday night, told LifeSiteNews that the policy “encourages other dialogue groups that can achieve the objective of promoting understanding, while remaining consistent with Catholic teaching that reminds us that persons with homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity, while being called to a life of chastity.”
Pro-family groups had warned in December that Marai would use his influence to overturn the policy. Though he made little issue of his activism during the campaign, he made his move only a month after being installed. On his website, Marai calls the ban “inappropriate” and accused the previous board of “wasting time dividing people” by enacting it.
Yet according to Paul Tuns, editor of The Interim, Canada’s life and family newspaper, it is actually the effort to rescind the policy that is divisive. “The board, rescinding the former policy, divides [itself] from its Church, and parents and their children from the education in the Catholic faith they have chosen,” Tuns explained.
“We should make sure the school board knows faithful Catholics and other pro-family voters, parents and stakeholders will not go away,” Tuns continued. “The board can choose between a noisy opposition of activists who are often opposed to the Catholic Church or a movement that fights to uphold the teachings of the Church. It’s their choice.”
The Halton Catholic board has been under a lot of pressure from elements in the Ontario Catholic school system, who claim the government’s equity and inclusive education strategy is designed to combat “homophobia.”
Chris D’Souza, a former equity officer for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board, and one of the major advocates of the equity strategy in the Catholic schools, claimed in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen that the public should not confuse Catholic teaching with the mandate of the government-funded Catholic school system. D’Souza, who has delivered over 1,400 workshops across Ontario in the last eight years, with presentations in over a dozen Catholic boards, has made it a key point in his presentations to Catholics that “equity” involves accepting the homosexual lifestyle itself.
“Just because we’re Catholic doesn’t mean we are anti-homosexual or against the eradication of homophobia,” he told the Citizen. “It’s the right-wing Christian groups and some of the other right-wing fundamentalists whose ideology bleeds over or taints Catholic education systems.”
Golob called on the Ontario bishops to exercise their leadership by calling on the board to stay true to Church teaching. “It remains to be seen what action the bishops will take before the final vote, but the parents and children of Halton, and all Ontario, need them now,” she said.
To respectfully voice concerns:
Alice Anne LeMay (905) 632-6300 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jane Michael (905) 319-6582 email@example.com
Arlene Lantomasi (905) 529-6155 firstname.lastname@example.org
John Morrison (905) 639-4718 email@example.com
Mark Rowe (905) 877-9510 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ed Viana (905) 632-6300 email@example.com
Diane Rabenda (905) 632-6300 firstname.lastname@example.org
Anthony Danko (905) 825-9159 email@example.com
Most Rev. Gerard P. Bergie, Bishop of St. Catharines
Chair, Ontario Bishops Education Commission
P.O. Box 875
St. Catharines, ON L2R 6Z4
Tel: (905) 684-0154
Fax: (905) 684-2185
Most Rev. Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., Bishop of Hamilton
700 King Street West
Hamilton, ON L8P 1C7
Tel: (905) 528-7988
Fax: (905) 528-1088
Most Rev. Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto
President, Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario
1155 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON M4T 1W2
Tel: (416) 934-3400 #609
Fax: (416) 934-3452