Catholics in Ontario, Canada are pitted against our provincial government in a fight to uphold our freedom of religion. In Ontario, we have a system of publicly funded Catholic schools, subject to the Ontario Government Ministry of Education. In these schools, Catholic teaching is upheld, although many parents feel that the religious education is shoddy at best, un-Catholic at worst.
Bill 13 is the provincial government’s solution to what it perceives as a major concern of homophobic bullying in all Ontario government supported schools. Under this Bill, all of our government supported schools are required to set up anti-bullying clubs, with a specific emphasis on homophobia, called Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA). Schools are also required to teach classes about gender identity and alternative lifestyles to children as young as Gr. 3. There are no actual statistics to support the claim of homophobia in our schools.
The Ontario Catholic bishops thought they had reached agreement with the provincial government to focus on all types of bullying, not just homophobia. They drafted a document called Respecting Differences to seal the deal. In this way, our schools would be able to uphold Catholic teachings and still comply with government initiatives on anti-bullying.
In a news conference on Friday, May 25, Education Minister Laurel Broten announced that Catholic schools would have to uphold Bill 13 in its entirety. This would force Catholic schools to establish mandatory GSAs where the focus is specifically on homophobia; furthermore, we would have to call them Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs. As part of the Bill, children from Gr. 3 onwards will have to attend mandatory classes that teach homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle.
So here we go again. Catholics writing letters, assembling demonstrations, speaking at school board meetings, praying and fasting to defend our right to religious freedom and to ensure that our children are not influenced by the pro-gay mentality that is seeping into our Catholic schools.
It’s so easy to be labelled homophobic. Just say you don’t believe in same-sex marriage and you’re a homophobe. Profess to be a practicing Catholic and you’re a homophobe. State your belief in marriage as between one man and one woman and, well, you know the rest.
I have had the awful experience of being called homophobic. Ironically, as a nurse, I have cared for many homosexual patients. I believe, and I have been told, that my attitude has been one of professionalism and compassion.
One patient in particular sticks out in my mind. He was a drug-addicted gay man whose behaviour was so self-destructive that he ended up wheelchair-bound as a double amputee with AIDS. Although he knew I went to Catholic church on Sundays and had 8 kids, he told me I was his favourite nurse. I thought he was interesting and I genuinely liked him.
My point is this: it’s our duty as Ontario Catholics to keep fighting Bill 13. However, we can’t forget that the people who are pushing this on us the most – gay activists in league with the provincial government – are still our brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray and fight for our religious freedom but pray for those who persecute us.
It’s been a couple of years since I’ve cared for my former patient. Every nurse will tell you that there are certain patients they will never forget; he’s one of mine. I wonder if AIDS has taken his life yet. I wonder if he would still recognize me. Every once in a while, I say a little prayer for him. I hope that one day, he will say a prayer for me too.
If you would like to know more about the government nonsense we are fighting, here’s a couple of links:
Pray for us.