Catholic Parents Support Trustees Defending Denominational Rights
(TORONTO, May 20, 2013)
School Trustees Garry Tanuan and John Del Grande proposed a motion to ban Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) anti-bullying clubs and support a Catholic club model called “Respecting Difference” at a Toronto Catholic board meeting April 25th. President of the Catholic parent group, Parents As First Educators (PAFE), Teresa Pierre, Ph.D. says: “Parents, staff and lawyers have been concerned that Bill 13 was an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of Catholics in Ontario. PAFE supports this effort to make sure students are given a solution to bullying which is reasonable and constitutional.”
“Respecting Difference” is a club template proposed by the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association in consultation with the bishops. Unlike GSAs, these clubs will not promote views of the person that undermine Catholic teachings on marriage, family, and the sanctity of life.
Tanuan’s motion will offer principals needed safeguards for their conscience rights. Pierre continued, “It is unjust that Bill 13 requires principals, other staff and students to act against their Catholic beliefs by forcing them to host GSA clubs in their schools.”
Pierre says courts across the country have recognized that no Charter right can infringe on the denominational rights of the schools. In Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Assn. v. Ontario (2001), the Supreme Court of Canada held that section 93 of the Constitution was “absolute in its protection of denominational rights.”
As the stewards of the denominational rights of the schools, Trustees have the authority to adjust any provincial law through a Catholic lens. “Since the provision of Bill 13 requiring GSAs is unconstitutional, then the Trustees have the responsibility to step in to amend provincial law for the Catholic school context,” she said.
“’Respecting Difference’ clubs are designed to support the constitutional rights of all students in the Catholic board. Our supporters expect the trustees in Toronto to make sure the unconstitutional forcing of GSAs on our Catholic schools is fixed by mandating ‘Respecting Difference’ clubs for all bullying problems. Those who disagree can sue, but we are confident the courts will continue to support the constitutional right to an authentic Catholic school system in Ontario,” concluded Pierre.
About Parents as First Educators
Parents As First Educators (PAFE) holds Ontario Catholic Trustees accountable to taxpayers through grassroots activism. We educate and activate over 15,000 supporters throughout Ontario. PAFE monitors and intervenes to ensure Board officials keep their activities transparent to the public. We hold them responsible for their actions and expect them to promote the teachings of the Catholic Church. For more information visit www.p-first.com.
For Parents As First Educators,Contact: Teresa Pierre, Ph.D., President