Big Canadian Province to Pressure Catholic School to Allow Gay Groups
Catholic school officials in the Canadian province of Ontario currently prohibit students from creating gay-straight alliances, but an amendment to an anti-bullying act may force the schools to accept the gay-friendly programs, the Ottawa Sun reported.
Ontario Education Minister Lauren Broten wants to amend the Accepting Schools Act, a legislation that was created to prevent bullying in schools, to allow students to organize a gay-straight alliance even if just one student requests to form one. Ontario is Canada’s most-populated province and includes its biggest city, Toronto.
Betty-Ann Kaeley, an Ottawa English Catholic school board trustee, said her board approved the Respecting Differences document -- a policy that allows students to create anti-bullying groups as long as they are not based on a single issue, such as gay-straight alliances.
"But whatever is happening now, we haven’t been briefed on it," she said. "It’s just up in the air since the board hasn’t taken a position."
The article notes that most Catholic school boards allow LGBT issues to be discussed in schools but officials don’t believe that there should groups that are exclusively for gay students.
"We are disappointed because we feel that this is not an approach that’s the best for students," said Carole Drouin, executive director of the Association Franco-Ontarienne des Conseils Scolaires Catholiques. "It selects one group over others in dealing with an issue that students might have."
French and English Catholic school boards say they are not discriminating against gay students as they have implemented groups to talk about the LGBT community.
"We have school boards who have groups set up already and we’re doing all we can, we’re very concerned with the safety of students and we want to support them if they’re going through difficult times," said Drouin. "That’s the purpose for us, and we should not lose that objective."
Canada is one of the most forward thinking countries in the world when it comes to LGBT issues. The country has recognized marriage equality for nearly seven years and allows same-sex couples to adopt. Gays can also serve openly in the military and most provinces allow transgender people to legally change their gender.