Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act, which changes the Education Act is now law in Ontario. The process began with the Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy, issued in 2009. It was issued with the government guise to combat bullying and create safe and welcoming school environments so that all students could succeed. However, for too many parents the three year battle has been nothing but divisive, deceptive and anti-education.
Bill 13 has put different cultures, religions and especially the Catholic Church and how it runs its schools on a collision course with gay rights. Bill 13 legally authorizes students to establish homosexual clubs in schools, including separate schools. The underlying political issue was often lost in the debate over the name of the clubs and the actual meaning of "Equity and Inclusive" education, but Premier Dalton McGuinty, Laurel Broten, Minister of Education and now the law make it clear that the clubs, the GSAs, must be called what they are: gay/straight alliances and any number of sexual orientations are now legally protected.
Even Cardinal Thomas Collins must have been surprised when the government stood firm by announcing there would be no negotiating on the name of the GSAs in Catholic schools. The government set the LGBT agenda from the beginning and in the end they made no changes, regardless of the countless meetings with the Archdiocese, parents, cultural representatives and other concerned groups. Mr. McGuinty went so far as to reject the Respecting Difference document which was the Catholic answer to GSAs. He didn't even listen to the dozens of presentations before the Standing Committee on Social Policy asking the government to amend Bill 13. In the end, the bill passed without any substantive changes.
In response, His Eminence released a public statement about his concerns over GSAs, but without a formal pastoral plan to combat the issue from the beginning, the official Catholic response respectfully was late in coming and not much more than capitulation. Here's, as reported in LifeSite news are the Cardinal's words: "Recognizing that the Accepting Schools Act is now the law, Catholic partners will seek, as we have always done, in a way that is in accord with our faith, to foster safe and welcoming school communities." Other bishops have also supported this seemingly paradoxical position.
Like the Ontario bishops the Catholic trustees and Catholic unions have gone on record saying they will try to implement Bill 13 in a Catholic context; Catholic leaders don't plan a legal challenge to this law. Given this accepting attitude from our hierarchy, the faithful in the pew who for the most part have not been informed, must be asking: What are our leaders prepared to defend if not the very freedom of religion, of Catholic schools, of conscience and of parental rights? If our Catholic leaders believed that they could negotiate with the government, the passage of Bill 13 without any changes should dispel that wishful thinking. It was this attitude of acceptance and accommodation that allowed the "Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy" to begin entering our schools as far back as 2009. It all began with a mere policy memorandum sent to school boards, but now it's all supported by law in Ontario.
Mr. McGuinty has gone so far as to say that there are higher values for him to defend and not just those that are Christian or from other religions or cultures. He believes that once Bill 13 is fully implemented in Catholic schools, parents and Catholic leaders, will come to understand the social significance of the legislation. When as a society we completely accept all sexual orientations, we will have a stronger and more integrated society. Parents and school leaders must simply comply with students who wish to start and be part of GSAs. So, our premier has made himself more than a political leader: He's now preaching as a self-appointed Liberal theologian and philosopher: One's "belief"about the acceptance of all sexual orientations trumps Christian values and all other rights, including parental rights. Should you any doubts whatsoever, just check with Bill 13.
According to the premier, one's sexual orientation must now be legally recognized and elevated to the level of a "religion", even if ironically it's a godless belief. But there's more: If Ontarians don't accept this "inclusiveness", this belief in the socially constructed sexual orientations and GSAs, then you just may be charged and taken to court, and if you're a doubting student, expelled from school. We have the premier to thank for this new legislated "religion". That it discriminates against Christians and their 2,000 years of faith tradition since it essentially teaches the legal commandment: "We are all equal, but some 'orientations' are more equal than others" is of little concern to him. He's both judge and jury.
Unlike McGuinty's dictatorial approach, the Catholic schools are not forcing their beliefs on anyone. They and other cultural groups never chose to bully those who disagreed with their views. The legal and political battle was declared on them by this minority government. Catholic schools are attended by students whose parents choose a Catholic education for their children. This is simple democracy. It's a choice not a law. Don't be mislead by the lie that one school system will save money. It won't because in educating the same number of students the cost will not be significantly reduced. The argument that it will cut the education budget is both distracting and political.What Catholics and other cultural and religious groups fought for during the long "Equity" battle was for the space and the freedom in Ontario to live their faith. We got the answer from the government: Bill 13.
As to what we can do, we will conclude with an appropriate quote from the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, one of the Vatican II documents. The message is especially directed to the laity: "There is a very urgent need for this individual apostolate in those regions where the freedom of the Church is seriously infringed. In these trying circumstances, the laity do what they can to take the place of priests, risking their freedom and sometimes their life to teach Christian doctrine to those around them, training them in a religious way of life and a Catholic way of thinking, leading them to receive the sacraments frequently and developing in them piety, especially Eucharistic devotion. While the sacred synod heartily thanks God for continuing also in our times to raise up lay persons of heroic fortitude in the midst of persecutions, it embrace them with fatherly affection and gratitude." (17) Amen to that!