A Catholic school district in Canada has released a new draft policy on homosexuality, after controversy erupted in April at a high school there. The policy has pleased Church officials in the area and is acceptable to government officials, while others remain ambiguous on this latest action to make Catholic schools in that nation more LGBT-friendly.
In April, a gay teenager who was a student at Vanier Catholic Secondary School complained to the provincial government that the school’s document on LGBT issues was homophobic and violated civil law. Giving the state funding that Catholic schools in Canada receive, they must adhere to laws about non-discrimination and LGBT rights. Officially, the education minister in Yukon stated the document violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Yukon News reporters further:
“The new document, released for public review on Wednesday, would serve as a replacement for a former policy that called homosexuality a ‘disorder’ and an ‘intrinsic moral evil’ – words that echo the church’s official views on the matter…
“The controversial language found in the old policy is gone, although the new document still cites the same church documents that describe homosexual acts as sinful – the Catechism of the Catholic Church and a 1986 letter from the Church to its bishops are both listed as footnotes on the new policy.”
However, the new policy also speaks about the Church’s commitment to respecting the dignity of every person and implements a plan to ensure discrimination and hate crimes are dealt with in a timely manner. This change comes after another gay student at Vanier Catholic was forced to use a locker with an anti-LGBT slur carved in it for two weeks in 2012. Anti-bullying measures are elucidated for staff, and students will now be allowed to form gay-straight alliances, which henceforth have been barred.
Not all find the policy a step forward, including Professor Kristopher Wells of the University of Alberta, who studies sexual minorities. CBC News reports:
“Wells says the Yukon Government already has a sexual identity and gender identity policy in place. He says a second policy creates two classes of personal rights.
” ‘So the question to ask is, would we do that to any other group of students? … For example, would we have a completely separate policy for Aboriginal students that limits their abilities and freedoms within schools? Really there can be no separate but equal. What this policy does is it creates an educational apartheid in our schools.’
“Wells says Vanier school adopting its own sexual orientation policy is a step in the wrong direction. He says policy must apply equally to all students in publicly funded schools, adding anything less is discriminatory.”
The policy will now go before the Whitehorse council for Catholic schools to be approved or reworked. In the meantime, it is likely that LGBT advocates will continuemaking Catholic schools in Canada more LGBT-friendly.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry