Taylor Dallin, a 2019-2020 TCDSB student trustee discussed the gender issue debate with Kyle Iannuzzi, a former student trustee. Joshua Santos

Speaking Out: Words don’t alter Catholic teaching

By  Paula Ducepec, Youth Speak News
  • November 20, 2019

Months of heated debate ended at a recent Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) meeting when trustees voted to include new terms into the board’s code of conduct. 

The four terms — gender identity, gender inclusion, family status and marital status — are part of the Ontario Human Rights Code and the government mandated they be inserted into the codes of conduct of every school board in the province. 

By themselves, the changes or additions in the vocabulary do not mean schools will have to abandon the teachings of the Church. The government believes they were necessary in order to recognize the differences of various individuals who attend diverse institutions.

But I understand the concern that comes along with the addition of new terms to the code of any institution. A code is something members of an institution live by, and any change has the potential to compromise existing beliefs and standards.

Language is in constant evolution, which means we should adopt a vocabulary that allows people to understand in terms that they can easily recognize. Still, this is tricky. As with any word in the dictionary, words can be attached with an idea that is being popularized in the ever-changing culture.

By adding these terms, the board did not redefine Church teaching to make it more attractive to today’s society. The terms added to the TCDSB policy merely make it acceptable to the government and to outsiders and onlookers who are regarding an institution they do not fully understand.

Inserting these terms into the code of conduct, however, doesn’t change the fact that the teachings of the Church still must be enforced. The laws and teachings of the Church give form, direction and discipline.

If we think of this from a secular perspective, it means that all individuals who fall under this institution must still express themselves within the boundaries of the institution. For example, a bank or any company that has a dress code is within its right to enforce that code. Disobedience to rules given by the institution can lead to discipline.

Putting these terms into the TCDSB’s Catholic Equity and Inclusive Education Policy does not change the Church’s teachings which the board abides by. The revised policy simply brings the board into compliance with a government directive. Educators are still required to be vigilant in knowing, understanding and bravely upholding the teachings of the Church, no matter the forces of society and culture that may go against it.

(Ducepec, 21, is a Bachelor of Science undergraduate student at the University of Toronto studying Anthropology).

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I know your expertise on this. I must say we should have an online discussion on this. Writing only comments will close the discussion straight away! And will restrict the benefits from this information.
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