Saturday, January 8, 2011

Trouble in Ontario

In many parts of Canada, the public schools are still run by the Catholic Church. So when the It Gets Better project took hold, pointing out the high rate of gay teen suicide and the treatment they far too often receive in schools, it was only natural for many regions to encourage groups such as the Gay-Straight Alliance. And most schools have welcomed this, yes, even some of the Catholic ones. Things seemed to be actually getting better for young LGBT individuals, that is until the Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) Caught wind of it.

The HCDSB claimed that clubs such as the Gay-Straight Alliance were harmful to its youth...despite every bit of evidence showing it was the complete opposite. The even went so far as to ban the organization from meeting at their school. When questioned as to their reasoning, board chair Alice Anne LeMay had this to say:

“We don’t have Nazi groups either, Gay-straight alliances are banned because they are not within the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

Wait...did she just Godwin her interview? I'm sure some religious apologists would have accepted the later part of her argument (though that doesn't explain why other Catholic run schools were fine with it), but only the most paranoid of the neo-cons would think the first half was justified. Because whenever you think of a group that strives to create understanding between differing groups everyone always thinks of the Third Reich.

But there is a chance that the Canadian government will force the HCDSB to change their decision. The reason being, as of 2011, the Ontario Ministry of Education declared that all school boards within Ontario (the province the HCDSB resides) must "have equity and inclusive education policies that help schools provide safe and positive environments for students of all races, religions and sexual orientations." They even go so far as to support the foundation of clubs such as the Gay-Straight Alliance.

However the education director for the HCDSB, Michael Pautler, argues that the Ministry of Education only proposes the Gay-Straight Alliance as one possibility to harboring a greater sense of acceptance for those with differing sexual orientations. Though he did not suggest any other possibilities. Apparently after the idea to compare them to Nazis failed they simply ran out of options.

Pautler went on to say:

"Dialogue groups can achieve the same kinds of objectives, but that have a broader focus on inclusion generally, or a celebration of diversity, as opposed to focusing on any one particular expression of diversity.”

In other words, you can have a group that explores the differences in humanity as long as you don't use the word 'gay', because, as we all know, highly religious people just feel icky all over whenever they hear that word and we wouldn't want that now would we.

Though what worries me even more is this final bit said by LeMay:

“[The policy] lists gender, sexual orientation, a whole bunch of stuff, that Halton has not included in their equity and inclusive education policy"

Hold on a sec, they haven't included gender in their equal education policy? And what is this 'bunch of other stuff', does this school still think blacks need to be kept separate from the rest of the student body? LeMay says this as if it were some common thing. Is denying women equal rights and comparing LGBT students to Hitler everyday occurrences in the Catholic parts of Ontario? The Catholics are really starting to scare me more and more each day.


A bow to Xtra! Canada's Gay and Lesbian News for the information.
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Anonymous said...

Religious conservatives of all stripes are pushing back as they see the world moving beyond them and leaving them behind. Keep your seat belt fastened tightly, we're in for a bumpy ride.

Anonymous said...

Can you credit your sources please.

Cyc said...

Thank you for pointing that out anonymous, I have corrected that oversight.