Saturday, March 17, 2012

Roman Catholic schools and teachers in Ontario are divided over sodomite-straight alliances on campus

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Romans 1:24-32

As reported by Charles Lewis in the National Post, March 14, 2012:

A split has emerged among Ontario Roman Catholics over a new provincial bill that would force religious schools to accept gay-straight alliances on their campuses.

While the Roman Catholic Church and the province’s Catholic school trustees oppose the bill, arguing that a group advocating for a gay lifestyle is in direct conflict with Church teaching, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, which represents 44,000 separate board teachers, said fear of gay-straight alliances is based on ignorance of what these groups do.

“The Catholic bishops need reflect on whether a club like a gay-straight alliance is really going to be about advocating for a lifestyle,” said Kevin O’Dwyer, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association.

“And the answer they should arrive at is no. These clubs are about building dialogue and safer classroms and that’s a good thing.”

Bill 13 would require all school boards to implement policies that combat bullying. It goes further than earlier anti-bullying legislation in mandating that students have the right to form peer groups on campus around four issues: racism, gender, disabilities and homosexuality “including organizations with the name gay-straight alliance or another name.”

However, the bill does not make clear at what grades the act would apply.

The Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association and the country’s major evangelical Protestant group, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, have issued reports that call Bill 13 a misguided attempt to deal with a serious issue by isolating groups into ghettos of victims — rather than deal with bullying as a whole.

The evangelical group said if Bill 13 were to be passed, the province would face years of litigation from religious schools and religious parents of students in public schools.

“Frankly, I think it’s counter-productive for the Ontario government to bully religious schools into adopting measures that are contrary to their beliefs,” said Faye Sonier, legal counsel for the evangelical group and the author of the report.

“This bill, unless amended, will set the stage for years of tax-payer funded litigation while parents and schools fight to regain recognition for their constitutionally and Charter protected rights.”

The evangelical report added that aside from the bill being an attack on religious freedom it will be detrimental to the very people it purports to help:

“Rather than permitting students to learn about their differences and recognize their commonalities in [more general] equity clubs, this Bill specifically sets out to isolate students into issue-specific groups,” the report said. “As such, students, teachers, principals and families do not have the ability to form groups based on their intimate knowledge of their communities’ demographics, history and challenges.

But Helen Kennedy, executive director of EGALE Canada, the largest gay advocacy group in the country, said religious groups are using the notion of religious liberty as a smoke screen to obscure their real concern.

“Let’s be realistic: the groups that are complaining are complaining about the word ‘gay,’” said Ms. Kennedy. “These religious groups say that their life is wrong and they are not worthy.

“Religious groups talk about isolating kids into groups but nothing is more isolating than feeling different. When you’re not embraced for who you are then fear sets and you can’t flourish.”

The issue was heightened last fall after 15-year-old Jamie Hubley, the son of an Ottawa city councilor, killed himself because of harassment he received from fellow students.

Bill 13 is likely to pass because it has the support of both the provincial Liberals and New Democrats. Sources say that Catholic bishops and education leaders are attempting to find common ground with the province behind closed doors.

But that opportunity might be fading. In a recent report from Canadian Catholic News, provincial Education Minister Laurel Broten made it clear that Catholic schools will do what the province wants.

Teresa Pierre, director of a private Catholic parents group called Parents As First Educators, believes Catholic bishops are keeping a low profile in this fight because they may be afraid of being labeled homophobic. She said the Church needs to make it clear to the public that its teachings are not based on bigotry but morality.

“The Church’s position on homosexuals is not different than any group struggling to abide by Catholic teaching. It is no different than straight teens that are sexually active. We wouldn’t have club centered around birth control,” said Ms. Pierre.

Statistics on bullying are not easy to come by. However, 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.

But EGALE said its studies have found that gay students are at high risk of being abused for their sexual orientation. It cited a 2006 U.S. study that showed gay and lesbian youth commit suicide or attempt suicide at much higher rates than their straight contemporaries. There are no statistics available for Canada...

...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.”

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