Time for Catholic parents to fight back against McGuinty

  • December 13, 2011

Writing in this paper more than 30 years ago, Cardinal Gerald Emmett Carter wrote that parents in Ontario would lose the Catholic school system when they stopped caring about whether it was Catholic. We might be approaching that moment.

Faced with a premier who seems determined to force issues and teachings that go against Catholic teaching, and a Catholic educational establishment that thinks there is nothing to worry about, parents will have to either fight back to preserve Catholic schools or watch them fade into distant memory.

Premier Dalton McGuinty is on a mission to bring anti-bullying clubs to Ontario’s schools, in particular the secondary schools. No one is for bullying but some are against McGuinty’s solution, which includes schools establishing something called “gay-straight alliances” to combat bullying of homosexual students.

Catholic school boards and the Catholic bishops in Ontario support anti-bullying but oppose clubs formed under the term “gay-straight alliance,” fearing that such clubs would be used to celebrate gay pride in Catholic schools.
 Most boards, trustees and others in the Catholic educational establishment have been confident that Catholic schools would be allowed to operate anti-bullying clubs in a way that would help all students, not just those who identify as homosexual. The legislation has been written in a way that might allow for that and, when speaking to Catholics, the McGuinty government has seemed open to such compromises. But not really though.

For months, key members of the McGuinty government have been telling the Catholic establishment one thing and members of the gay and lesbian activist community something completely different. In early December McGuinty let his mask fall and told reporters in the mainstream media his real thoughts. Speaking in Windsor, McGuinty said Catholic schools “will have gay-straight alliances,” although they could be called something else.

“Are there gay children attending Catholic schools in Ontario? Yes. Are there gay teachers teaching in Catholic schools in Ontario? Yes,” McGuinty was quoted.
“The purpose of our  Accepting Schools Act is to send a strong signal to all Ontarians, of all faiths and backgrounds, all places of origin, culture, ethnicities, in our province and our publicly funded schools — schools will be warm and accepting of all our children, regardless of their sexual orientation as well.”

So we can forget about previous calming assurances from the McGuinty government, trustees and even Ontario bishops. Gay-straight alliance clubs are coming to Catholic schools. Some parents might think this is a good thing, others will think it bad and others will wonder what all the fuss is about.

The Catholic Church teaches that homosexuals “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” At the same time the Church teaches that homosexual acts are wrong, just as it teaches that divorce, abortion and any sex outside of marriage is wrong.
Will Catholic teaching still be allowed in Catholic schools once the premier installs clubs designed to not only prevent bullying but also celebrate homosexuality? The answer seems to be no.

Writing in the Globe and Mail, which calls any exemptions for Catholic schools “questionable,” Andrew Steele compared religious-minded Canadians who oppose GSAs to bullies.

“Religious leaders who want the right to bully their students — or promote bullying by their students — should look elsewhere than the public purse or this parent for their funding,” Steele wrote.

Steele is no random columnist giving his personal views. He is a former senior advisor to McGuinty and a key strategist and campaign worker in the McGuinty Liberal election machine. Now, as the Globe’s Queen’s Park columnist, he is calling for an outright end to the funding of the Catholic school system. One of the reasons: a reluctance to accept GSAs.

Catholic schools may already have programs to combat bullying, regardless of cause. They may already foster an environment where a student dealing with troubles arising from sexual orientation can feel at ease. It now appears that unless Catholic schools accept legislation that will further strip away their Catholic identity they will face increasing calls for de-funding.

Catholic parents face a choice. They can stand and fight for their schools and their faith while trying to maintain public funding or they can take the easy route and keep the funding secure by not raising their voices.
If the majority of parents pick the latter option they may as well stop pretending there is anything Catholic left in the Catholic school system.

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