Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board (HSCDSB) trustees have turned down a resolution asking the board to oppose the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association’s decision to take part in the World Pride Day Parade in Toronto June 29.
The HSCDSB resolution was defeated by secret ballot at the board’s regular meeting Wednesday.
The resolution proposed that a letter be sent by the board to OECTA, asking OECTA teachers to withdraw from the parade.
Trustee Kathleen Rosilius, the Huron-Superior board trustee who brought forward the protest resolution, told SooToday.com she believes in protecting students who are gay or lesbian from bullying, but that chastity should be practiced by both gay and straight students within the Catholic school system.
Earlier, Rosilius read out a written statement to the board.
”The Gay Pride parade’s intent appears to be to shock rather than educate and build inclusive communities,” Rosilius said.
“After all, ‘Pride’ is about the social acceptance of the gay lifestyle.”
“Our Catholic Church doesn’t condone the gay lifestyle,” Rosilius said.
“Due to the appalling sexual nature of some of the activities at this event, it has become more of a spectacle and has been portrayed as a deliberate defiance against moral values and Catholic teaching.”
“This cannot be reconciled with the Catholic teachings in our schools,” Rosilius said.
Rosilius also pointed out that Catholic bishops and parent groups have spoken out against OECTA’s planned participation in the parade, and that other Catholic school boards in London and York region have passed motions requesting OECTA not take part in the parade.
Trustee Bill Murphy, by teleconference, also spoke out in favour of the resolution, defending what he termed “the benefits of monogamous, heterosexual marriage” and reminded trustees of the Huron-Superior board’s pledge “to uphold Catholicity.”
Laurie Aceti, another trustee who participated by teleconference, said she would oppose the resolution and adopt the equivocal ‘who am I to judge?’ stance taken by Pope Francis, leader of the world’s Roman Catholics, in regards to gay people.
John Caputo, a trustee who was absent from Wednesday’s meeting, had sent a letter to be read out which outlined his opposition to the resolution.
Caputo’s letter stated his belief that the Huron-Superior board’s duties should be restricted to issues such as quality of education and finances, not personal choices people make in regards to their lifestyle.
Alex Camirand, student representative from St. Basil secondary school, said students he had spoken with “feel very strongly about supporting gay students in the school community…it’s encouraging that OECTA is supporting this.”
Tiann Nantais, student representative from St. Mary’s College, said students she had spoken with appreciated OECTA’s participation as a show of support for gay students, but agreed that the parade’s activities are “inappropriate.”
Katrina Wheaton, Huron-Superior OECTA unit president, told SooToday.com Tuesday that she and unit vice-president Darrell Czop will be part of the OECTA delegation attending the Parade.
Wheaton said OECTA planned to be at the parade to support LGBTQ students, teachers and staff, while not “endorsing activity that would go against the Church’s teaching on chastity.”
It is not known how many Huron-Superior teachers and students will be attending the parade.
“In our faith community there are many views and we have to be respectful of all of the views, conservative or liberal…the trustees with their votes have made their decision and we live with that decision,” said John Stadnyk, HSCDSB director of education.
“It’s a contentious issue because of the conflict with the teaching of the Catholic catechism, but OECTA is a union that represents Catholic teachers, and in their governance process, they can make decisions and whether we agree with them or not, that’s their prerogative to make their decisions,” Stadnyk said.