I will briefly summarize the different deputations that were made last night, pro and con, for your erudition. I regret if I oversimplify or accidentally misrepresent a presentation as I try to provide a brief sense of the sentiments and arguments expressed. I've decided not to identify the speakers except for those representing our local Catholic teachers unit; OECTA TSU. I will also name the clubs and school's name.
Please note: The motion was defeated 7-4, not 11-4. My mistake!
I am beginning with the student, parent and community group presentations. The trustees to follow in my next blog:
Francis Lieberman CSS students: Perky, respectful Catholic students in proper uniform speak in favour of the 2 clubs at their school: Respecting Differences + Bridges. Their emphasis is on equality, promoting compassion, + respecting differences issues. The clubs are not political or sexual. They promote chastity for both straight and gay students. The student led the assembly in prayer. Response: Some quiet sneering and derision but mostly polite.
Mary Ward CSS students: Deportment the same as the Lieberman presenters. The positive impact of GSA's in promoting the Gospel value of "Love one another" is stressed. Acceptance and inclusivity is a way to lessen homophobia. There are groups for the other types of bullying too. An argument was presented that the 1867 BNA act had been essential to protect Catholics who were being discriminated against, so we should be able to empathize with the LGBQT. Positive imaging was addressed. Response: same.
OECTA TSU 1st VP Dave Szollosy: Catholic social justice teachings towards the marginalized is emphasized. What is important is the clubs purpose, not their names. The boards equity policies were discussed. Sensitivity is necessary to provide an accommodating safe learning environment for all. The emphasis should be on the common values that unite us all within the Catholic community. Response: Mixed applause. I was told to pray for Dave by a member supporting the ban.
OECTA TSU Human Rights Committee's Michel Blais: The committee does not support the ban. Harassment and bullying, marginalization and exclusion, embracing the most vulnerable, supporting and empowering our students and self definition were all addressed. Catholics have been a minority group. Generic clubs could put our LGBQT students in the same position. It was noted that the United Nations has recognized that homosexuality is not a sickness since 1990. Response: Mostly quiet. Applause from the back rows.
A single parent: GSA's are based upon homosexual ideology. They bring sexual experimentation into our schools. They encourage boys to kiss each other and promote the sexualization of students. No student should be discriminated against but the GSA's are unacceptable and unnecessary. The Catholic church is open to everyone including gays but not homosexual behaviour. Response: Applause and upset student chatter.
A parent: GSA's violate our denominational rights. We need to defend the rights of our children and those of the church. Lukes Gospel is quoted. If you are not with us you are against us. There is no room for dissent. We are of one mind and heart in Christ. Response: Applause, more confusion.
Rogers Broadcaster: states he was fired as an on air announcer for defending marriage. The purpose of GSA's is to promote homosexuality contrary to the clear teachings of the Catholic church. We are not casting stones but only trying to live our faith + teach our children accordingly. We will stand up for protecting gays but we will not promote their lifestyle. We shall be victorious through Jesus Christ. Response: Much applause and cheering.
A retired teacher: Trustee Tanuan has been bullied in the media over tabling tonights motion by another trustee. He has a right to table the motion to protect Catholic education. Our board lacks leadership. Respecting Differences still has not been implemented whereas we could be leaders in doing so, rather than supporting GSA's. Concern was expressed that fat and skinny students are the most bullied. If the board goes the GSA route it leaves the staff without any support. Response: Applause and cheering.
CORE: Emphasized their belief in Bill 13. A court challenge for replacing GSA's with Respecting Difference Clubs would legally fall short. Acceptance, conflict resolution, wellbeing, respect and safety are stressed. Response: Clapping from the back rows.
PFLAG [Parents + Friends of Lesbians + Gays]: Presenter noted she is a product of the Catholic school system as a student and is now a Catholic teacher. She has a lesbian daughter whom she is proud of. Homophobia is rampant at school and throughout society. All children should be a part of a GSA. GSA's promote acceptance. Opponents have nothing to fear, there is no political agenda. Catholic values of the mystical body of Christ and the Catholic sacraments are addressed. The issue should not be reduced to a political bone of contention. Response: Speaker was shouted down by catcalls, booing, and name calling. She cut her presentation short but was called back by the chair to finish. A shouting match ensued in the visitors gallery about how much time she had left, drowning out the rest of her presentation.
NOTE: Chair explains teachers should not be addressing the trustees meeting but she will allow it this time. The comments are to be duly recorded in the minutes.
Couples for Christ: Many student's families are visual minorities from countries were Catholic values strongly teach homosexuality is unacceptable. The Ontario Catholic Bishops have spoken. We are to implement Respecting Differences clubs. GSA's undermine family values. We need to preserve our distinct values. The anti homophobia posters put up at school by the Bishop Morocco CSS student Rainbow club are bad and should not be allowed in a Catholic school. The school board has the right to adjust Bill 13's implementation in our schools to respect Catholic religious values. Response: Lots of applause + crying students.
Independent group delegate speaker: He came from India excited that our democracy supports Catholic schools. Our schools should teach traditional Catholic values, they should not be hubs for student indoctrination by Bill 13. Respecting Differences encourages equality for all. Christianity has always been opposed to homosexuality even if it is popular with the mainstream. Biblical references to sinners having millstones put around their neck and being thrown into the sea are strongly stated. Response: Much cheering and applause. Crying students + shouting can be heard outside the auditorium.
One with God Community: We share a common Catholic way of life. Would God approve of GSA's? Procreation is for men and women only. Homosexuals must remain celibate. GSA's do not address bullying rather they promote homosexuality when our students are searching for their identity. Reference is made to public school boards, in the US and Quebec I believe, where 14 year old girls are allegedly being told to kiss each other and the boys are given condoms and told girls are sluts. Do we want our Catholic schools to be like that? Response: Much cheering and applause. Much crying outside the auditorium.
PAFE [Parents as First Educators]: Catholic schools must teach our children to love Christ. Our teachings are Catholic. The government is violating our rights. The 2011 Osborne opinion on equity and our denominational rights showed they can't be overrode. Trustees have the right to choose Respecting Differences clubs over GSA's as our constitutional right. Offence is taken to a Lieberman Bridges club poster display apparently promoting bisexuality and gay families being displayed in the school and not taken down. We will remember how the trustees voted tonight during the next election. Response: Shock and applause. Lots of student crying outside the auditorium.
COMMENT: I don't care if one is pro or con, it is absolutely wrong to make the students cry!!! Always!!! Last night they presented themselves quite finely with excellent deportment. It took courage + principle to enter the lion's pit. Bravo!
As for the adults behaviour? No.Two thumbs down! The students had every right to be there, so of course, all present should show them proper respect, even though the offence given might've been unintentional. This is about the students, not us. If they don't come first then God help us all. Actions speak louder than words!
NEXT: The Trustee's Statements!