By Jason Menard,
The Catholic school system’s decision to get all up in arms over the naming of a mandated club may finally cause people from all walks of life to wonder why (in the name of God) are we still funding Catholic schools at all?
Laurel Broten, the Ontario Minister of Education, has said that all publicly funded schools in Ontario must create clubs that specifically target the bullying of gay, bisexual, and transgender students. Oh, and students have to take the lead in the groups – including having the power to name them.
Yet the Catholic school board doesn’t like that. Gay-straight alliances are too controversial; the issue is too political. The mandate goes against Catholic Church teachings.
True, both the Supreme Court of Canada and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights have stated parents can choose the type of education that their children receive. So while Catholic school’s denominational rights may be protected by the Constitution, the funding is not.
And it’s time we stop.
You want to send your kid to a Catholic school? Fine. But just like Canadians of Jewish or Muslim faith, you shouldn’t expect the public to pick up the cost.
This isn’t about what the Catholic school system’s allowed to teach. If they want to stick their head in the ground and believe that abstinence works with horny teens (there’s a reason why those skirts get rolled up at those schools with uniforms), then more power to them. If they want to teach that being gay is a sin, then go ahead – but don’t expect a single public cent to help that cause.
You know what else is protected by our Charter of Rights and Freedoms? The right to not be discriminated against. And to fund the promotion of one religion to the exclusion of all others isn’t right in today’s multi-cultural society.
The solution is simple: two public systems, one English and one French. And a major component in each of these systems would be the addition of a World’s Beliefs course. Let’s teach the kids what it means to be Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, or atheist. Let’s expose our kids to different cultures, different forms of worship, and explain why those differences exist. Whatever-God-You-Believe-In forbid that some young girl take pride in wearing a Hijab to school, knowing that her classmates will understand why – and not make fun of her.
The best thing about talking about different beliefs in an open environment is that you can talk about how they change. After all, some of these religions also turned a blind eye towards slavery and genocide. Their leaders have admitted the error of their ways, so hopefully that message can filter down to those who hold outdated views on what “Love thy neighbour” actually means.
What I can agree with here is the Catholic school system’s defense that these groups should focus on the prevention of all bullying, regardless of sexuality. But that doesn’t have to be done to the exclusion of these groups.
The bullying and targeting of gay, bisexual, and transgendered students is a real issue, with specific needs. But just as violence against women, racism, and religious intolerance shouldn’t be lumped into a category called “bad stuff that happens,” neither should this issue.
And no school decision should be made because of religion. We live in a secular society. The continued funding of a religious-based system is inappropriate and must not be perpetuated – exactly for reasons like this.
For many, religion plays a central role in their lives. But one place that religion should have no role?