The Ontario Liberals are engaging in unnecessary government “micromanagement” and disregarding the Catholic Church’s own ability to tackle bullying, Cardinal Thomas Collins, head of the Ontario Assembly of Catholic Bishops, said Monday.
“If the point is that there is something unacceptable about those Catholic principles, then I find that troubling and wonder whether caricatures of the Catholic faith are in play,” he said.
“With the principle established that the legitimate local authority is nullified in this case, then is any student free to introduce any program, any club, or advocacy group relating to any issue?”
The province on Friday said it would amend its anti-bullying Bill 13 to give students the right to name their clubs “gay-straight alliances” over the objection of school authorities. The original bill called for “organizations with the name gay-straight alliance or another name.”
The option of “another name” is now off the table. Other ambiguities remain, however.
Laurel Broten, the Minister of Education, made it clear in an interview Monday that all school clubs would have teacher supervision. That raises the question of what a GSA would look like in a Catholic school setting, something that still remains unclear even after two press conferences held by two Catholic leaders.
Cardinal Collins said organizations’ names have specific meaning, and so what a group is named may determine the group’s activity.
“If someone asks you to join the Liberal, Conservative or New Democratic Party, you rightly expect something different from each. So the key issue is not just the name itself, but the content connected with the name, with the ‘brand.’”
Cardinal Collins said the Church was taken aback by Friday’s decision because it believed it was on the way to negotiating a compromise. He said he is puzzled as to “why a piece of provincial legislation is being used to micromanage the naming of student clubs” and “why Catholics are not free to design their own methods to fight bullying?”
Cardinal Collins said he would not speculate as to the government’s motives, and was unclear about the role teachers might play in steering a club, regardless of its name, in keeping the club’s agenda in line with Catholic teaching.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says homosexual behaviour is “intrinsically disordered” and “under no circumstance can it be approved.” However, the Catechism also teaches that homosexuals “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”
Earlier Monday, Marino Gazzola, president of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association, struggled to express what the practical difference would be between a GSA or a “respecting difference” club, something his group has proposed.
“GSAs are externally developed and they don’t reflect the unique values our Catholic schools are based on,” he said.
‘‘Our concern is on focusing on Catholic values and the safety of all students and ensure they are protected. In our view the word [gay] is distraction. We want to focus on the safety of the students.”
Both the Liberals and NDP support the amended bill, so in all likelihood the bill will be passed before the legislature rises for the summer on June 7.
In an interview, Ms. Broten said the government has focused on gay students because they are the group most at risk. She noted a survey from EGALE Canada, the country’s leading gay rights groups, which showed that 64% of gays students have been subjected to some form of bullying.
However, the in 2006 the Toronto District School Board conducted a study to determine causes of bullying. The most cited reason was “body image” (38% in Grades 7 to 8; 27% in Grades 9 to 12), followed by grades or marks (17% and 12% respectively), and 7% in all grades noted language as a cause.
The next three categories at 5% or lower were gender, religion and income. The issue of gay bullying did not register in the study.
This article originally appeared on: http://life.nationalpost.com/2012/05/28/church-rejects-ontarios-gay-straight-club-decision-accuses-government-of-micromanagement/Older postNewer post