|Bishop Fred Henry says the province's new guidelines 'breathe pure secularism' |
and show no 'sensitivity to the Catholic community.' (CBC)
"This approach and directive smack of the madness of relativism and the forceful imposition of a particular narrow-minded anti-Catholic ideology," Bishop Fred Henry wrote in a blog post on the website of the Catholic diocese of Calgary.
"Such a totalitarian approach is not in accordance with [Canadian law] and must be rejected," he added, in a post titled "Totalitarianism in Alberta."
The guidelines were released by Education Minister David Eggen on Wednesday in Edmonton.
The document advises school boards to develop policies that let students choose which washroom to use, the name on their report cards and the sports teams they wish to play on.
The bishop writes: "[The guidelines] show no evidence of consultation with or sensitivity to the Catholic community. They breathe pure secularism."
School boards have been given until the end of March to approve their own policies, which must conform with the provincial guidelines.
There are about 2 dozen Catholic schools in Alberta and at least 2 school boards.
The Calgary Board of Education said Wednesday that it didn't expect any problems complying with the province's new guidelines for respecting students' gender identity.
The supervisor of psychological services at the board, Tamara Gordon, said the division's policy is nearly ready. She called the guidelines a "great support to our system," but added they're likely to have a "pretty profound impact" on school boards in general in the province.
The Catholic Church, the bishop said, espouses a "rather simple" teaching that God created beings as male and female and that "men and women should respect and accept their sexual identity."
Henry voiced his disapproval of student-led gay-straight alliances (GSAs) and queer-straight alliances (QSA).
"GSAs and QSAs are highly politicized ideological clubs which seek to cure society of 'homophobia' and 'heterosexism,' and which accept the idea that all forms of consensual sexual expression are legitimate. The view of sexuality that they espouse is not Catholic," he wrote.
Henry said Catholic schools support "inclusive communities" where every person is treated with dignity and respect.
Education minister responds
Eggen said discussions with school boards will continue and there will soon be meetings with Catholic Church leaders as well.
"Certainly I knew this wasn't going to be easy, but important things are never necessarily easy to achieve," Eggen told The Canadian Press Thursday.
"We'll receive different opinions on this, but I always take it back to first principles, which is to protect and to focus on children, especially young vulnerable children in regards to gender identities. Once we do remind ourselves of those things, then it becomes clearer what has to be done," he said.
How is it protecting our children when a confused boy decides he want to be a girl and starts using the girl's washroom? How comfortable are the other girls going to feel?
The ministry's endorsement of gender self-identification is not only an affront to the Catholic church, it is an affront to God. And it will only sew confusion on children who are at a very vulnerable age.
Transgender church leader weighs in
Pace Anhorn is the director of Young Queer Church, a monthly service in Calgary. He says the bishop's language is over the top.
"It's a little bit shocking that [he] takes it to that degree, that this is a radical sexual movement and that we are setting up these ideological clubs," said Anhorn, who is a transgender man.
Uh, hello? You may be too young, Mr Pace, to remember that homosexuality, transgender people, etc., were not considered normal nor acceptable to society. I remember that. It was the case through much of my life. And it was the case through virtually all of the history of man. Suddenly it's not! What has been for eons is turned up-side-down in the past 20 years. That's radical!
|Pace Anhorn is the director of a new faith project for young LGBT Christians. |
'Trying to solidify that homophobia is OK. That kind of bothers me,' he says
of the bishop's remarks. (CBC)
Anhorn said he fully supports the province's guidelines, because he says LGBT youth face higher rates of homelessness and suicide than the rest of the population.
|The Calgary Board of Education says it is ready to implement the province's |
new LGBT gender expression guidelines. (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)
The Calgary Board of Education says it is ready to implement the province's new LGBT gender expression guidelines. (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)