OECTA president James Ryan

OECTA is wrong

  • June 18, 2014

The outcry continues but the decision remains unchanged: the union that represents 45,000 Ontario Catholic teachers is determined to march June 29 in Toronto’s gay pride parade. As Cardinal Thomas Collins recently put it, “Really? What are you thinking?” 

Indeed, what is the union thinking? The question has been out there since 600 delegates attending the annual meeting of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association voted in March to walk “in solidarity” at an annual Toronto parade that celebrates the gay and lesbian lifestyle. Ostensibly organized to promote equality and human rights, the Sunday parade is more notable for its public nudity, sexual role-playing and flaunting of common decency and morality. It is certainly no place for teens and children, nor for Catholic teachers or the union that represents them. 

Yet OECTA president James Ryan insists he will be there, marching behind a union banner along with a large number of the rank and file. He has heard the criticism from the cardinal and other Ontario bishops, as well as from some school boards and individual teachers. But even if he was inclined to back down (and there is no indication that is the case), he said it would be extremely difficult to disregard the clear directive delivered by union delegates at their annual meeting. 

“OECTA will not be changing its position,” he told The Register

Unlike some of the more colourful participants, the union hasn’t outfitted a float. That’s a small mercy. Another is that parade rules limit participation to 100 marchers per organization. So relative to the union’s total membership, representation will be small. 

But small doesn’t mean token. At least not in this case. Intentional or not, the union is sending out a loud message when it shrugs at Catholic values and gives bishops the brush off. It’s a message of renunciation surely heard by a secular society that questions the value of Catholic education, and it’s a message of rebellion likely to trickle down through teachers to impressionable children and teens. 

The union said it will march in order to support students and teachers who are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender. It is certainly appropriate to advocate for classroom tolerance, equality and inclusivity. Schools must be safe and welcoming, and discrimination is never acceptable. But that is already policy throughout Catholic school boards, endorsed by the bishops. It is also the law. 

The parade, however, has moved far beyond basic human-rights advocacy. It’s evolved into an X-rated rolling orgy of self-indulgence and hedonism. Some of what goes on is probably unlawful and certainly un-Catholic. 

OECTA is apparently (and regrettably) untroubled by all of this. The union leaders are determined to march. And the teachers? They should do the right thing and stay away. 

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.