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Halton Catholic schools continue to ban gay student groups

Halton Catholic schools continue to ban gay student groups

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New equity policy out for community feedback
The Halton Catholic District School Board’s (HCDSB) new equity and inclusive education policy passed its first hurdle Feb 15, but the board still does not allow for any student group containing the word “gay.”

Instead, the board has included procedural supports that follow the Pastoral Guidelines to Assist Students of Same-Sex Attraction, a document written by the bishops and used to write the equity policy, as well as training for staff, educators and parents. The document explicitly prohibits gay sexual activity and states that if gays can’t live a “moral life,” they must accept “a life of chastity.” Sex is only for married straight couples.

“If a student asks for a gay-straight alliance [GSA], what will happen?" Paul Marai asked board chair Alice Anne LeMay during the meeting. She didn't answer, saying only, “That's not in the motion. Did you read the policy?”

The motion contains the Catholic template equity policy and a list of procedures dubbed “action steps.” It approves of By Your SIDE (Safety, Inclusively, Diversity, Equity) groups that would act as nonspecific equity clubs, encouraging students to discuss “all issues concerning equity, inclusively, diversity and safety.”

Marai pulls no punches on the By Your SIDE proposal. He says the board has just sidestepped the issue by approving another ban.

“I’m really worried we went from revoking a ban on GSAs to banning the word 'gay,'” Marai tells Xtra. “What kind of message does this send to the [lesbian, gay, bi and trans] students at our schools?… We want students to congregate, but we don’t want them to be visible.”

The board will also get reports from these groups, brought back by student senate members and student trustees in the form of “recommendations.” The groups will be established in each secondary school.

Another support, SIDE Spaces, refers to training given to two staff members at each school, appointed by principals. The training includes the lessons in the Pastoral Guidelines. The board also plans to establish networks with other Catholic boards and community agencies to determine best practices.

The draft policy now goes out to the community for feedback, a process that will take about three weeks. Anyone can comment, says John Langill, superintendent of education for the HCDSB, “and everything is brought forward to the board.” He says the policy will be circulated among parents, students, teachers, priests, church councils and school administrators before returning to policy committee. It will go to final reading in April.

Anthony Danko was one of three trustees who voted against the policy. He expressed concern that the procedural supports were included with the policy. LeMay told him that, in light of “media reports,” they must be included. Neither Danko nor LeMay remained in the boardroom for comment.


The other trustees who voted against the policy were Marai and Jane Michael, "but for very different reasons," Marai says. Michael did not remain behind either.

“Quite frankly, now we have a situation that has potentially created this umbrella [student group],” Marai says. “What does this mean for multicultural clubs? We don’t have any answers on that. I’m not sure what the outcome will be, and I’m very concerned about that.

“I really wish we had time to discuss the procedures specifically and our concerns about them.”

There was one shocking voice in opposition to the board’s new policy. Sylvie Hache, a self-described “recovering homosexual,” spoke at the beginning of the meeting.

The packed gallery sat in stunned silence as she argued that being gay is an addiction, something to be treated and cured, “like drug addiction.” She told the board to remove all references to “sexual orientation” because “it is sinful when acted upon.”

“The truth from the Bible stated homosexuality as a sinful behaviour equal to, but not any different from, any other sinful or addictive behaviour.” Hache added that she would rather see the board establish groups that help students “turn away from that sinful or addictive behaviour,” like drug rehabilitation or Alcoholics Anonymous.

Reading from a prepared response, LeMay thanked Hache for her presentation and said, “You do not accurately reflect the teachings of the church on homosexuality.” (Interestingly, it’s almost exactly what she told Xtra when she was asked about the board’s GSA ban back in January.)

Marai looked sickened by Hache’s speech.

“I was horrified with what she said. This is why [the board] isn’t going far enough with these SIDE Spaces,” Marai tells Xtra. “She’s a perfect example of why students, if they would like GSA clubs, they should be allowed to have them, because unfortunately there’s people like her in our society.”

The HCDSB made waves after they banned GSAs in November. When questioned, LeMay told Xtra the board “doesn’t allow Nazi groups either.” In the face of national outrage, the board was forced to lift the ban on GSAs.

But Xtra has since discovered that Halton is not alone; Catholic bishops forbid GSAs in Ontario’s 29 publicly funded Catholic school boards.

It was a letter sent from Bishop Paul-André Durocher, chair of the Education Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, to Catholic school boards that led to the ban in the first place. The letter raised concerns about the groups because they “imply a self-identification with sexual orientation that is often premature among high school students.”

Education Minister Leona Dombrowsky has not responded to repeated interview requests from Xtra.

Read read more of Xtra's coverage on Halton here.
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Comments

Catholics will provide for their students.
The debate surrounding Homosexual/Straight Alliances (GSAs) in Catholic high schools is being complicated by the fact that people are not distinguishing between an objective and a strategy. GSAs are a strategy that some people propose to achieve an objective with which the Bishops of Ontario are in agreement: that all students in schools feel safe and respected. The Catholic objective is that each student be treated with dignity, for each is a child of God. It is not right or fair to suggest that one particular strategy is the only way to achieve a given goal. Catholics seek to achieve the goal of a safe and loving environment for all students in a way that is in harmony with their Christian faith.
Thinking of Soi of Port Moresby
@kv, it would be ironic if Soi of Port Moresby is a 13-year old closeted boy struggling with the realization that he is attracted to other males. Alternatively, it would be tragic if Soi is instead a middle-aged closet case who has wasted the best years of his life living a lie. But, it would be pathetic if Soi is simply a non-thinking adherent to an out-of-date homophobic religion based on irrational superstition and the God delusion.
pity the ignorant of port moresby
having to visit a gay Canadian newspaper for news when he probably wishes just a local straight newspaper were available in port moresby. unless of course he's secretly looking for something else ; )


try also www.proudfm.com

small enough to listen in your closet!
educate and enlighten yourself
http://www.gaychristian.net/greatdebate.php?

http://www.dignitycanada.org/

if only catholics would learn that it's ok with consenting adults instead of choir boys.
Good Story for You
Gays are sick people. They should be checked or confined in a mental institution. Just imagine two men kissing or women doing the same. It is not right. Man was made for woman and woman was made for man. Both complement each other. How can a man make another man pregnant and continue the human race. Get real, gays and lesbian people.
The Church is the true foundation of education
@ Randy
Where are you getting this idea that the Church has no place in education? The facts are thus: The Catholic Church played an indispensable role in Western civilization: the creation of the university. which was an utterly new phenomenon in European history. Nothing like it had existed in ancient Greece or Rome. The institution that you recognize today, with its faculties, courses of study, examinations, and degrees, as well as the familiar distinction between undergraduate and graduate study, come to us directly from the medieval Catholic world. As historian Lowrie Daly stated, "The Catholic Church was the only institution in Europe that showed consistent interest in the preservation and cultivation of knowledge."

So you see, it is homosexual activists like yourself who are the interlopers in the education system, not the Church which largely founded it. You are mere guests (and very rude and boorish ones at that) in the Christian civilization WE built.
Don't blame Catholics
Blame TIME. Ignorance is teaching the teachers here. Who is teaching the ignorance and lack of education in these barbaric hateful times? In the future this will be judged differently, barbaric but necessary for now. Reality is what is the most generally accepted by the majority to be truth...at the current time. Look at World during Nazi regime...barbaric now, but then accepted as reality. Be a GAYICONOPLAST and teach the ignorant MASSES. Include these Catholic Masses and we are moving forward in time, however resistant. Blame our reality, blame our Time now, but don't blame them for their current ignorance and FEARS of a different future. Resistance is futile, and they will change....in time...yes BLAME TIME it will consume ALL, ignorance included. I know I'm there already...R U?
Marai the devil exist
marai looks like a demon . Look at his eyes and fist pose. Purely demonism at work as usual. If he feels comfy with the out fall discusting death styles of Homosexual Hockey Coaches and Fake Crhristians/ priest who molest inocent clean boys or the such is why he shouyld be afraid instead of proud. Marai has too much time on his hands and needs to be voted out. Wolf in sheeps clothing is What Marai is
Follow the law
My interpretation of this is that Halton CDSB is flouting the law. They should be forced to comply, or forfeit and return their public funds.
no place!
The church has no place in the schools of the nation. Why do we waste time and money taking arguments based on hate and ignorance seriously? You can provide a theologically defensible argument for slavery and killing your own children using the Bible. When will we stop allowing Christians to negotiate serious matters using this flimsy, fear-mongering text? Regardless of whether it's done with a liberal or a conservative eye, it is utterly nonsensical that we continue to allow these opinions, again based on fear and hate, to prevail.
To quote Will Ferrell in Zoolander, "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills."

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