Saturday, March 26, 2011
The war against gay-straight alliances (GSAs) in Ontario's Catholic schools rages on. This week, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said that he refuses to order Catholic school boards to allow GSAs. Critics say that it has much to do with the looming election, but the government says that it is not a necessity that these schools allow gay groups, as long as there are other forms of support.
“If there isn’t a gay-straight alliance, then there needs to be an alternative forum of peer support,” said Mike Feenstra, spokesperson for Education Minister Leona Dombrowsky. “If there is not a GSA, there does need to be another group that gives students the opportunity to talk about issues that are important to make them feel safe.”
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees on what constitutes support. In Mississauga, a principal recently turned down an appeal for a GSA at her Catholic school, only to hand out homophobic pamphlets to teachers that suggested gay youth should "change" their sexual orientation. News flash: groups that claim to "cure" gay people are not supportive. Just so we're clear.
“I don‘t believe freedom of religion trumps a student’s freedom of expression, association and equality, especially given the high level of teen suicides among gay youth,” Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, director of equity for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said to ParentCentral.ca.
Some, including New Democrat MPP Rosario Marchese, have called out the Premier for his stance that GSAs are not mandatory. They claim that the Ontario policy compels schools to allow groups with gay in the title. Gay rights group Queer Ontario has said that McGuinty is trying to side-step his own policy.
Since Catholic schools are publicly funded, they should adequately reflect the law of the land. In Ontario, human rights law supports LGBT students. Sadly, Catholic schools do not. To call on the government to stop using taxpayer dollars to fund homophobic Catholic school, sign the Change.org petition here. To ask the Ministry of Education to enforce their policy that all schools be open to forming GSAs, go here.