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Controversial School Policy Unites Churches
A group of Hamilton, Ontario churches are responding to a school board mandate that the homosexual lifestyle must be taught in local public school classrooms.

Across the Province of Ontario, boards of education are implementing sexual orientation polices that mandate instruction in the homosexual lifestyle.

The approach taken...will sexualize the school environment...

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board passed such a policy in June 2008. After careful examination of the policy and the recommended curriculum materials, 45 pastors (from 11 different denominations, plus independent churches) concluded, "this policy, will result in the deconstruction of our children's traditional Christian beliefs and values by an LGBT agenda.”

A specialist in social policy has carefully examined the policy and expresses the following concerns: "The policy intends to create a school culture in which all forms of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered relationships are fully accepted. The approach taken, by integrating sexual lifestyles into curriculum and programs, will sexualize the school environment and discriminate against those who disagree with the LGBT lifestyles."

Effect on curriculum

The policy will affect all subject areas. Children in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3, when learning about family and the community, will be exposed to LGBTTTIQQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, Two-Spirit, intersex, queer and questioning) lifestyles through alternative family curriculum materials. Stories such as “Daddy's Wedding,” and “Heather has Two Mommies” will be read and discussed.

At the Grade 7-8 level, the sexual health curriculum has been modified to reflect the sexual diversity of the LGBTTTIQQ community, and includes references to alternative forms of sexual expression.

In the Grade 9 drama classroom, it has been reported that students in one high school were given the following situation around which to develop a skit to present to the class: "It is late at night, and you have made arrangements to meet your best friend in the woods behind your house. You have something that is bothering you and have finally decided to share it with your friend. You are in love with your same sex friend, and have decided tonight is the night to share your feelings!”

Community response

An organization called PEACE Hamilton (Public Education Advocates for Christian Equality – Hamilton) formed in response to the policy. The goals of the group are to inform parents about the policy, the potential effect on curriculum, and provide strategies and tools parents may use to share their faith and reduce the impact of the policy on their children's biblical Christian world view.

Options for parents

In Hamilton, PEACE is presenting seminars in churches throughout the city. During the seminars parents are introduced to the options they may exercise to advocate for their children.

One option is to leave the public education system. Families may then choose from a variety of alternatives.

Attend Catholic schools: At the elementary level, the Catholic system is allowing enrolment of non-Catholic students who have found the secular system offensive to their values. The PEACE website has further details.

Home schooling is an excellent alternative for families able to commit the time. To find out more contact the Ontario Christian Home Education Connection.

Independent schools provide a high quality faith-building environment. Parents interested should visit the Hamilton Area Network of Independent Christian Schools.

Remaining in the public school system: For families that feel it is important to be salt and light to our secular society, there is also help.

Both the Public School Board and the Minister of Education have stated, "Should a component of any course conflict with a religious belief held by a parent or a student aged 18 or older, the right to withdraw from that component of the course shall be granted on the written request of the parent or student" (letter: Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Education, April 2008).

To assist families to communicate with the public school, PEACE Hamilton has developed a common communication tool entitled "Our Family's Spiritual Values." The form may be requested from PEACE Hamilton, or downloaded from the website.

If such school board policies concern you, support is available within the Christian community so you can take appropriate steps to lessen the affect of the policy on your child's values.

Phil Lees is the director of PEACE Hamilton (Public Education Advocates for Christian Equality). He can be reached at plees@mountaincable.net.

Originally published in Beacon, November/December 2009.

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