Parents Group Supports Toronto Catholic GSA Ban
(TORONTO, May 1, 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” in Toronto Catholic schools at a board meeting April 25th. President of the Catholic parent group, Parents As First Educators (PAFE), Teresa Pierre, Ph.D. says: “PAFE thinks this measure will combat bullying while still respecting the faith concerns of Catholic schools. PAFE supports this bid to restore Catholic school rights which have been brushed aside by Bill 13.”
“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 this law requires principals to act against Catholic beliefs by forcing their approval of GSAs,” she said.
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 should step in to amend provincial law for the Catholic school context,” she said.
“Respecting Difference” clubs will also allow for students who face bullying of all kinds to participate as opposed to the exclusive nature of GSAs. Academic studies on the issue have shown that bullying occurs for many reasons and all children experiencing bullying need help. “’Respecting Difference’ clubs strike a better balance of the rights of all students in the Catholic board,” 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.