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Catholic bishops prohibit gay-straight alliances in Ontario schools

Catholic bishops prohibit gay-straight alliances in Ontario schools

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Gay label to be 'avoided,' educators told
Gay clubs are prohibited by bishops at all Ontario Catholic schools, an investigation by Xtra reveals.

That contradicts what's been said by politicians, school officials and even gay lobbyists, who claim that there are gay-straight alliances (GSAs) in the province's Catholic schools.

Xtra contacted all 29 of Ontario's Catholic school boards; not a single one reported having a GSA.

Moreover, not only are GSAs prohibited by Catholic bishops, but Ontario's taxpayer-supported school system's understanding of homosexuality — and its gay students — is determined by these religious leaders, not the policies of the Ministry of Education.

According to the superintendent of education for the Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board, Gerald Casey, GSAs aren't explicitly banned by his board.

"No, I wouldn't say we ban them. We support student clubs that support inclusiveness, especially for students who might otherwise feel marginalized. But all our clubs must, however, adhere to the Catholic teachings and values," says Casey.

Could students at a Bruce Grey Catholic school start a GSA?

"The answer would be no," admits Casey.

Though they don't have a GSA at the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board, Diane Legg, director of communications and public affairs for the board, says, "It's not about if we allow or not allow them."

"As a Catholic board, we're guided by the bishops, certainly. We always have been," says Legg. "We write our curriculum based on church teachings."

All curriculum taught at Ontario Catholic schools is vetted by the Institute for Catholic Education. The institute was formed 25 years ago when the province extended full funding to Catholic high schools. Its membership is made up of associations representing Catholic principals, trustees, the teachers' union, business officials, supervisory officers, parents and the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario (ACBO). The ACBO is the final authority in the province on what is - and isn't - determined to be "Catholic."

Sister Joan Cronin, executive director of the institute, explains. "They have the moral suasion of guarding the Catholic tradition. If you read canon law, you'll see the role of the bishop is to govern, sanctify and teach. They have the responsibility of seeing the Catholic tradition is taught," she says.

In 2004, the institute published the chief document used to inform all Ontario Catholic school teachings on the subject of homosexuality, the Pastoral Guideline to Assist Students of Same-Sex Orientation.

In the introduction to the 94-page directive, written by bishop Paul-André Durocher, chair of the ACBO Education Commission, he acknowledges the church has "not always been sensitive to the particular needs of students with a same-sex orientation." Durocher calls for the elimination of "practices like bullying and unjust discrimination" and for the development of policies to meet the "special needs" of "students with a same-sex attraction."

What follows the introduction is a guide for keeping Catholic students with "a same-sex attraction" safe from both bullying and, more importantly, gay sex. The document avoids using the label "homosexual" as, it explains, "The orientation or act is homosexual or heterosexual but the person is not." A student may have "a same-sex attraction," but no one is gay. Further, if a student is suffering from these attractions, they must never act on them: "The bottom line of church teaching on gay sexual activity is simply: Don't. Ever. This is called lifelong abstinence, or a celibate lifestyle."

Though the document serves as the principal reference on Ontario Catholic teaching on the matter of their gay students, it has never been posted online by Catholic or Ministry of Education officials. A searchable, downloadable pdf of the Pastoral Guideline can be found at the end of this report.

Tracy Barill, superintendent of education for the Durham Catholic District School Board, explains these guidelines are used to inform schools' chaplaincy teams, who work with students who experience "a same-sex attraction."

For Barill, there is no conflict between the best interests of gay students and Catholic teachings on homosexuality.

"The teachings of the Ontario Catholic bishops is that we need to respect the dignity and respect of all human beings," she says. "Catholic teaching is clearly opposed to marginalization of any individual for any reason."

Asked if these mandates by the Catholic bishops might conflict with ministry guidelines on equity and inclusive schools, Legg shoots back. "We are to be inclusive, we are to be understanding, and we are to embrace all students. That's the information I have, and if you're trying to say something else I can't support that," she says.

Though the Pastoral Guideline is referenced in the the Ontario Ministry of Education's Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy (PDF), no mention is made of the document's discrimination between homosexual and heterosexual sex, or its principal contention that gay identity is a myth. Instead, after lamenting the continued evidence of "racism, religious intolerance, homophobia and gender-based violence" in school communities, the ministry commends the bishops for their acknowledgement of "homosexual students'" high rate of suicide and applauds the religious leaders' commitment to keeping students "free of harassment."

The ministry repeatedly refused to comment to Xtra on this issue.

In an effort to quell calls for an end to public funding of Catholic schools following the Halton Catholic School Board's outright ban on GSAs, many claimed Ontario taxpayers choose which board their taxes will support. This is factually incorrect. Catholic schools are funded according to the number of students, not the number of Catholic taxpayers.

Part of this damage control included leaving voters with the impression that the problem of homophobic discrimination was isolated to a single Catholic school board.

Speaking at a public meeting at the 519 Church Street Community Centre on Feb 9, gay MPP Glen Murray, a cabinet minister in the provincial government, spoke on the subject of Catholic GSAs in the province: "Where are the gay-straight alliances? You find just as many in Catholic schools as you do in public."


Pastoral Guidelines To Assist Students of Same-Sex Orientation

Comments

I downt get it
Let me get this straight, the Church hates gays, but half of the churches top people are fucking Pedophiles who have sex with little boys...am i missing something here?
No Homos! No Cash!
Can you believe our tax dollars (you and I homos and everyone else) go to such schools and boards? And then they whine about perceived 'homo agendas' being pushed up their curriculum... like we can train guys to be gay... what the hell? I guess they just have too much of our money (and time) on their hands...! NO HOMOS NO CASH!
Your tax dollars at waste
I am totally appalled by the fact that our tax dollars actually go to faith based schools, many of them promoting narrow and intolerant views usually based on ignorance. But what appalls me way more is to read some peoples' complaints here about homosexual 'propaganda'#&^???' 'creeping up' in their schools but not complaining about our tax dollars creeping up in those same schools...
alliance indeed
Iran has the Taliban; the UK has archbishops in the House of Lords; and Canada has the RCC interfering in politics. It's time to delete one or words from the Preamble of the Canadian Constitution, and move on to a secular society.
Pg 2 Letter to Dombrowsky
effective way to help reduce wellness barriers in schools is the creation of Gay Straight Alliances. Pink Triangle Youth of Pink Triangle Services, with funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, created a GSA Guide to assist in helping to understand what GSA's are and how they can be developed by students. I encourage you to personally review the attached copy. As one who has had significant leadership experience in the school system of Ontario, I know you will be impressed what GLBT youth in Ottawa have accomplished with this Guide. http://www.pinktriangle.org/Eng/gsaguide.htm The time has come for everyone to find ways to make Ontario a better and safer place for youth who are GLBT or questioning their sexual or gender identity. The harsh reality is that there are alarming rates of depression and suicide, GLBT-related incidents of bullying, school absenteeism and drop-out rates. Provincial policies on education have a bearing on resources available for providing individual and school-wide services to support a safe environment for all. The creation of GSA's offer an opportunity to help address these critical issues. I encourage you to get out in front of this very important issue as it emerges in Ontario. We are on the vanguard of change and you, and the Government of Ontario, have an important roll to play.
I sent my letter to Dombrowsky thru her FB page
Minister Dombrowsky Most people who are GLBT will say that growing up, and particularly fitting in at school was one of the most difficult experiences of their lives. This was confirmed by the Ottawa-Carleton GLBT Wellness Survey results. http://www.pinktriangle.org/wellness/main.html Sixty-two percent of teens said that depression was an issue for them in their lives. Thirty-six percent said that feeling suicidal is an issue for them. Compared even to mental health statistics among “high-risk” youth in the general population, these statistics are alarming and warrant urgent action. Other studies have shown that about one in three teenaged suicides is by a gay or lesbian. Youth in focus groups in Ottawa confirm these findings and say that they had trouble finding help at the time when they really need it. Only 52% had a family doctor, and 33% reported having no regular health provider of any kind. Fifty-six percent of youth are not out to their health provider, and so are not talking to them about any issues related to sexual or gender identity. Schools got mixed reviews from youth focus group participants. While there have been some improvements in certain schools, (particularly those in which a teacher is openly gay and is prepared to offer support to students who need it) there are still many instances of homo-, bi- and trans-phobia in schools fostered often unwittingly, but sometime wittingly, by teachers and students. At at time when the world wide social media phenomenon of "It Gets Better" [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IcVyvg2Qlo ] has gone viral and inspired hundreds of thousands to share their personal stories of encouragement -- students in Ontario Catholic schools can't call their gay-straight alliances by that name, because the bishops don't like the word "gay." That sends a shaming message to gay teens, which is inconsistent with the values of Ontarians, and does not help to address the needs of these youth. One very low c
Starting a Campaign
I'm starting a campaign to raise awareness about the GSA ban in the Ottawa Catholic School Board. The site is www.stopthehate.ca. I find it inexcusable that representatives of the Catholic school boards still insist on telling children that they are faulty/abominations/broken for having a different sexual orientation.
CAMPAIGN AGAINST DISCRIMINATION
JOIN CAMPAIGN AGAINST DISCRIMINATION FOR GAY FAMILYS ON YOUTUBE AND TWITTER. After FAMILY DAY in ALBERTA I'll be posting a YOUTUBE CAMPAIGN CALLED JUST US in Alberta and I'm tweeting from FitnessExecutiv. This regards GAY FAMILY RIGHTS and MALE RIGHTS in Canada's FIRST LEGAL GAY MALE FAMILY with details online at FL01-01406 which has lead after 5 years to an official CHARTER CHALLENGE FOR GAY FAMILY RIGHTS online at FL01-11127. For more details on whats going on you can email sportaerobics@hotmail.com or explore details hidden for publication ban purposes over the past 5 years with various online posts beginning with ELLEN Desgeneres archives as early as July 6, 2006, yep this gay warlock has been forced to create his own support hidden on internet which exposes everything if you can figure out the world's first ONLINE DAVINCI CODE STYLE CRY FOR JUST US. We are not alone and this is MODERN STONEWALL ONLINE...first clue is with Ellen's archives search 'rainbows and unicorns' posted by Mr. H the National TREASURE you'll win is GAY RIGHTS with Bill22 which should be proclaimed July 1,2011 and once GAYS are included, HETERO MEN will also have NEW MALE RIGHTS so it trancends the GAY community as well for GENDER EQUALITY. Email your support as this is NATIONAL in SCOPE. Bill 22 will be the most advanced legislation of its kind as it involves IVF and AHR. Invitrofertilization and Assisted Human Reproduction Technologies trumping INTENTION of parentage over BIOLOGY. Imagine the world a better place where MEN and GAYS are treated equally and Presumption of Parentage and Guardianship is established at CONCEPTION not by BIOLOGICAL birth. Make July 1st 2011 something to be Proud of make it OUR Community with GAY FAMILY's fully INCLUDED INTENTIONALLY...bullying is not limited to teens its currently the CDN Govt as well with Alison REDFORD as new Premier itgetsworse and we cannot destroy gay familys do to irresponsible, fraudulent and discriminatory people like her and RABOT
And the Star confirms...
...what Xtra first broke: http://www.thestar.com/news/article/939129--new-rules-won-t-open-doors-for-gay-straight-alliances-in-halton-board "When contacted by the Toronto Star, spokespersons at Catholic school boards in Toronto, Dufferin-Peel, Durham and York confirmed there were no gay-straight alliances in their schools...Of 104 high schools, the Toronto District School Board has 31 gay-straight alliances. It also recently launched a “positive space campaign,” to support students dealing with sexual orientation and gender identity. At least one teacher at every school is to be trained to work with students." Catholic schools? “'We don’t have groups called gay-straight alliances at our schools, however, we welcome the establishment of inclusive support groups for all students who feel marginalized due to race, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, or life circumstances,' said Joann MacDonald, spokesperson for the York Catholic District School Board." A craven attempt to dodge using the word 'gay' and even inadvertently support a student's sexual orientation or gender identity, while trying to stay within the letter of the Charter. It's inadequate, it's homophobic and it's unacceptable. And, of course, it reveals what we've known all along: Catholic school boards have been lying about GSAs and politicians and lobby groups like Egale have been accommodating and perpetuating those lies, for reasons that remain unclear.
Please, no more "don't ask, don't tell"
I see that one of the commenters (Mr. or Ms. "Challenging the Church") is virulently keen on keeping his/her (mythical) Catholic school GSAs top secret. We are to take their existence on faith. Does s/he not understand that the whole point of a GSA is to allow gay kids to finally feel safe coming out of the shadows? It is the homophobic Catholic school admin and trustees who should be forced into the shadows (and under rocks) where they can discuss to their hearts' content how gays are to be damned. As far as lobbying MPPs, how dare you presume to know what I have or have not done? Not one mainstream politician will dare come out and say "If Catholic schools want to discriminate against gays and non-Catholics, then they are violating basic human rights and must lose public funding". Why should a Muslim Ontarian have to pay for a Catholic school that is permitted to keep him and his kids out?? It's insane. At least with an exclusive private school you don't have to pay for the luxury of being kept out! History will look upon EGALE as failing our gay youth in their time of greatest need. Shame on you.

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