Ontario bishops call proposed gender course anti-Catholic

By 
  • January 29, 2010
{mosimage}TORONTO - The Assembly of Catholic Bishops in Ontario is urging Catholic secondary schools to reject a proposed gender studies course that contravenes church teaching on sexuality.

“A reading of the overall expectations leads us to believe that, though much of the content could be taught within a Catholic context ... the fundamental thrust of this proposed optional course reflects an ideology which is at variance with Catholic anthropology and moral teaching,” the bishops said in a recent letter to Catholic school board chairs and directors of education.

According to the Grade 11 course draft — which could be part of the curriculum in September — students will be offered a course that studies “the struggle for women’s rights and historical waves of feminism” including access to birth control information and reproductive rights. Students will be expected to “analyse successes and challenges in the recognition for rights for sexual minorities” including “radical feminist movements and LGBTT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual) rights.”

Campaign Life Catholic, a branch of Campaign Life Coalition, says it applauds the bishops’ move. Campaign Life national organizer Mary Ellen Douglas said its main objection is the course promotes homosexuality and abortion rights.

“When the ministry starts mandating and not assuring us that we’d be able to introduce our own Catholic teachings that involve morality, alarm bells should be going off for all Catholic parents,” Douglas said.

But according to the education ministry, the course would be optional and can be tailored by teachers to meet their students’ needs. Ministry spokesperson Patricia MacNeil said it isn’t designed to promote any political agenda.

“Teachers design their own lesson plans and should be encouraging a respectful discussion from all viewpoints,” said MacNeil.

The bishops proposed a choice from two social science courses as an alternative: “Equity, Diversity & Social Justice” (Grade 11) and “Equity & Social Justice Studies: From Theory to Practice” (Grade 12).

The bishops said the Institute for Catholic Education will be working on a course profile or module for each of these courses which integrates Catholic social teachings. In 2004, the bishops’ Education Commission worked with other Catholic education partners to develop pastoral guidelines for assisting students of same-sex orientation.

For a copy of the course, see www.curriculumreview.ca/SSandHumanities.

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