HALTON, Ontario, January 10, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A month after installing a homosexual activist as a trustee, the Halton Catholic District School Board is facing a campaign from homosexual lobby groups against their pro-family equity policy, in which they explicitly banned homosexual student groups. The board has so far defended the ban.
After LSN broke the news that Paul Marai, co-chair of the Toronto activist group Out on Bay Street, had been elected to the board, Marai assured the public that he would stand behind the board’s policy, which had won praise from pro-family groups when it was passed in November.
“I’ll have to stand behind the policy of the board that was already made,” he told the Oakville Beaver on December 23. “If it comes up again, for me it’s about talking to the people I represent.”
Yet in a January 6th interview with the Canadian homosexualist paper Xtra, he took a different tone, saying he’d be open to any student wanting to start any student group. “I was elected trustee after this policy was put in place,” he said. “Quite frankly, the policy must meet certain expectations.”
“I think people are tired of groups banning things and trying to divide the community,” he added. “I’m focused on how we can build the school system. I don’t think we should concentrate on banning student groups.”
The same day, Xtra published a piece criticizing the board’s ban on gay straight alliances (GSAs). Defending the ban, board chair Alice Anne LeMay said, according to Xtra, that “gay-straight alliances are banned because they are not within the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
“If a gay student requests a gay-straight alliance they would be denied,” she continued. “It’s not in accordance with the teachings of the church. If they wanted to have a club outside of school, fine, just not in school.”
Helen Kennedy, executive of the major Canadian homosexual lobby group Egale, accused the board of breaching a provincial mandate by adapting the policy to be in accord with Catholic faith. “That’s ridiculous,” she told Xtra. “That’s like saying drunk-driving laws don’t apply to everyone.”
Despite the pressure, the Halton board again defended their policy in a January 7th statement. “The Catholic Church recognizes the dignity of all persons and neither defines nor catalogues them according to their sexual orientation,” they wrote. “For this reason the Board’s current Equity and Inclusive Education Policy specifically counsels against gay straight alliances, which necessitate students to self-identify according to sexual orientation.”
In the statement, LeMay apologized for having listed Nazi groups as another type of organization that would also not be allowed in a Catholic school in her remarks to Xtra; but she said her comments were taken “out of context.” “It was not my intent to make any type of comparison between gay straight alliances and Nazi groups,” she said. “Rather, I was providing a number of examples of groups that are not endorsed and permitted in Halton Catholic schools, for example, groups in favour of abortion or hate groups of any nature. I did not make a direct comparison between gay straight alliances and any of these groups, nor was that my intent.”
Egale and other homosexual groups have been using GSAs as an entry point into the Catholic schools, with the support of their partners in the Catholic system, most notably the Ontario English Catholic Teacher’s Association (OECTA).
OECTA made headlines in the mainstream media before Christmas after LifeSiteNews revealed that they had partnered with Egale on their MyGSA.ca project. OECTA has persisted in supporting the homosexual student groups despite an explicit directive from the Ontario bishops in January 2010 banning them from Catholic schools.
The pro-life and pro-family group Campaign Life Coalition warned in December that Marai’s presence on the Halton Catholic board could jeopardize their equity policy, which CLC had praised after it was passed on November 2 as part of the Ontario government’s equity and inclusive education strategy.
Besides banning GSAs and similar clubs, the policy included explicit wording to prevent instruction that undermines Catholic teaching in the area of homosexuality, and emphasized that “equity” and “inclusion” must be interpreted in accordance with Catholic teaching. They required that teachers consult the Catholic Catechism’s teaching on homosexuality (paragraphs 2357-2358) whenever they address the topic.
LifeSiteNews did not hear back from Marai by press time.