Teresa Pierre, President of Parents as First Educators, speaks at a press conference in Toronto on Thursday, July 5, 2012. Pierre requested that Ontario Catholic Trustees continue to implement "Respecting Differences" clubs instead of McGuinty's Gay Straight Alliances in Catholic schools.
Credits: VICTORIA PTASHNICK/QMI AGENCY
"We're calling upon Ontario Catholic Trustees to implement ‘respecting difference' clubs as the responsible solution to bullying in schools," Teresa Pierre said.
The Ontario government passed controversial legislation in early June that allows students to form a gay-straight alliance in public and Catholic schools in an effort to curb bullying.
Earlier this year, the Ontario Catholic Trustee Association proposed their own way of dealing with bullying in schools.
They said they wanted to create respecting difference clubs, which would still address issues of students who were being bullied, but stayed true to traditional Catholic teachings on sexual behaviour and values.
"PAFE is requesting the trustees to continue to implement these clubs in all Catholic schools in spite of the passing of Bill 13," Pierre said.
Legally, Catholic trustees are able to refuse gay-straight alliances because they have the right to disobey with anything that undermines the school's religious character, she said.
"Dalton McGuinty is a bully for trying to force Catholic schools to host clubs which violate the civil and religious rights of Ontario taxpayers," Pierre said.
Topics of sexuality could be discussed in respecting differences clubs, however the title McGuinty is forcing on them, gay-straight alliances, is detrimental to Catholic beliefs, she said.
"It's the use of the name that we think shouldn't be forced on us. That name carries a certain set of expectations of what will be done in terms of activism in the school," Pierre said.
Pierre said she has evidence gay-straight alliances encourage activism in Catholic schools that are not in line with their religious values.
"I'm concerned that the teachings on church and family that are already under general erosion from today's culture would be further questioned and attacked with these clubs," she said.
Pierre said she's aware of cases where gay students have committed suicide due to bullying, but said gay-straight alliances won't necessarily benefit gay students.
"I have great sadness for any student that's struggling to that extent. However, we don't have any evidence that the gay-straight clubs improve their situation. We have evidence that the church's teachings just support them through those times," she said.
The province and the Ontario Catholic Trustees have yet to respond.