Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for March 20, 2013

Minister sets out expectations to bishop

Vanier Catholic Secondary School’s policy on gay students must be changed to meet Yukon human rights laws, says Education Minister Scott Kent.

By Ashley Joannou on March 20, 2013 at 3:42 pm


Photo by Whitehorse Star

Education Minister Scott Kent

Vanier Catholic Secondary School’s policy on gay students must be changed to meet Yukon human rights laws, says Education Minister Scott Kent.

In an open letter to Bishop Gary Gordon of the Catholic Episcopal Corp. of Whitehorse, the minister writes that the “policy is inconsistent with and does not meet all of the requirements of Yukon Education’s policies and likely other laws in force in the Yukon such as the Human Rights Act, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and other case law on equality rights.”

The full letter is on p. 7 of today’s Star.

Kent goes on to offer senior staff from his department to help rewrite the policy.

The school’s current document, Living with Hope, Ministering by Love, Teaching in Truth, called a “A Guide for Pastoral ministry to young people with same-sex attraction,” first began getting public attention in late February when a parent complained in a letter to the Star that Vanier’s policy on homosexuality appears to contradict the Education department’s own policy.

Vanier’s policy asserts that same-sex relationships are morally wrong.

It suggests same-sex attraction is a disorder and a trial to be overcome by adopting a lifelong commitment to chastity.

The 25-page document also takes a stand against violence.

“It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs,” it says.

The policy has since been taken off the school’s website.

In an interview this morning, Kent said he is hopeful the situation could be resolved through dialogue.

“So we come to a place where students feel safe and welcome and protected and respected in our schools.

“I’m not making it my business to tell people what they should believe in, but I need to make it my business about what happens in our public schools,” he told the Star.

In the lengthy letter sent to Gordon earlier this week, Kent acknowledges that under currently law, which goes back to 1962, the Yukon government is responsible for funding, operating and managing the Catholic separate schools.

“Second, and equally as clearly, the Episcopal Corporation is responsible for instructing students of the Catholic separate schools in the Catholic religion and morality, and this includes developing and providing curriculum and other religious instructional materials for this purpose,” Kent writes.

“The religious instruction of students of the Catholic separate schools must also be carried out in accordance with all laws in force in the Yukon,” he writes.

“As part of my responsibilities as minister of Education, I must establish and communicate goals and objectives for the Yukon education system. The Education Act specifically requires me to promote the recognition of equality among all Yukon people in a way that is consistent with both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Human Rights Act.”

For the last two weeks, Gordon has failed to return phone calls from the Star to discuss the issue. He has been quoted in other media in the past saying the Vanier policy will stay in place.

As for what would happen if the policy is not changed, Kent did not want to speculate.

“There’s statutory issues at play here. This goes back over 50 years to the agreement we reached with the Episcopal Corporation on schools,” he said.

“There’s a number of tools available to me, but I think the most important thing is an informed dialogue with clear expectations. I’ve made my expectations, and the government’s expectations, clear in the letter.”

The policy at Vanier has led to discussion, particularly online, over the laws that require the schools be funded by the government and whether those should be updated.

“We have a very long history of Catholic schools here in the Yukon, over 100 years; I think that one of the most important things when it comes to those types of discussion is looking at the long-term success of those schools,” Kent told the Star.

“I’m proud of the type of education those schools are delivering over the long term, and I think after we are able to resolve this current situation, I look forward to just moving forward and continuing to provide quality education to Yukoners both in the Catholic schools and the public schools.”

Those unhappy with the policy plan to gather outside the Yukon legislature for a protest at noon Thursday, an hour before the house is reconvened.

CommentsAdd a comment

June Jackson

Mar 20, 2013 at 5:51 pm

If folks don’t like the philosophy, don’t send your kids to the school. The Catholic’s have not made any secrets of their stance on many of the social issues today, homosexuality being but one of many. 

Personally, I think sex ed should be taught in the home and not forced on 3rd graders in the schools.

Not the God Squad

Mar 20, 2013 at 11:25 pm

I’m an atheist so this is meaningless to me…buuuut, is not “freedom of religion” not in the charter as well?
Education Act and Human Rights Act do not trump the charter. We have a classic case of UN meddling here as far as I can see, aided by Educrats and their agendas.
I say if the god squad wishes to not jump on the PC bandwagon and teach things which clash with their theological views fine.
Of course that would imply public monies be withdrawn too.
YHRT are witch hunters fed by special interest groups whose forte is social engineering…in my POV.
Which by the way YGLTGS groupies is also called “Freedom of Expression” Sec. 2(b) of said document.
And part 1….?

Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law: is even clearer?
...and I’m not a god squad fan, buuuut!


Mar 21, 2013 at 12:20 pm

June:  I think there are various ways to interpret the Catholic faith and like all religions, they change over time, however slowly.  Kids who go to Catholic schools should not be ostracized because they are gay and that is a simple as it gets.  In terms of sex ed…these are highschool kids not grade 3’s.

Max Mack

Mar 21, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Despite Kent’s moral posturing, Vanier’s policy does not appear to violate the Charter, Human Rights legislation or “case law”.
It has been widely acknowledged that the Catholic policy at Vanier firmly encourages equality of all persons.

The Catholic school is entitled to their opinion about whether or not homosexuality is a sin or a disorder, in the same way that any other school expresses its opinions about any subject of interest to society. This is not a Charter issue, nor is it a Human Rights issue.
Parents who are morally outraged should consider withdrawing their children from Vanier if it bothers them so much.
It is interesting that many of these same parents are neither Catholic nor even borderline Christians, but pretend to be sincere Christians and send their kids to Vanier because it is perceived to be where the elite send their kids.

Add a comment

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your full name and email address are required before your comment will be posted.

Commenting is not available in this section entry.

Comment preview