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News archive for March 5, 2013

Policy doesn’t meet expected standards: Kent

Vanier Catholic Secondary School’s sexual orientation policy will be removed from the school’s website.


Photo by Whitehorse Star

Education Minister Scott Kent and Katherine Mackwood

Vanier Catholic Secondary School’s sexual orientation policy will be removed from the school’s website.

That decision stemmed from a meeting this morning between Education Minister Scott Kent and Bishop Gary Gordon.

Concerns about the document were raised with Kent during a meeting with a group of Vanier parents on Feb. 18.

The policy does not meet the standards outlined by the Department of Education. As such, it is being considered a religious document, Kent said in an interview this morning.

Moving forward, Gordon will work with the school council, students and parents to create an acceptable policy that will exist in conjunction with the department’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policy.

However, as a religious document, the school’s current policy, Living with Hope, Ministering by Love, Teaching in Truth, could continue to exist unimpeded, as long as the school adopts the department’s policy as well.

“As far as a religious document goes, this document can continue to exist,” Kent told the Star.

“It’s not my business to say what people can believe, but it’s certainly my business to have a say what happens in schools, and that’s why I thought it was important this document come down from the school website.

“It’s certainly a complex issue, and clearly, more work needs to be done on this and the work needs to be led by the school community,” he said.

“That’s what I’m encouraging the school to do.”

The policy follows the Catholic Church’s stances on same-sex relationships, asserting that they are morally wrong.

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

At the same time, it condemns any ill treatment of gay or lesbian students. (The document asserts that it’s preferable to speak of “persons with same-sex attractions.”)

The document can be viewed on Vanier’s website.

Bishop Gordon has previously said the Living with Hope document was approved by Education staff.

However, Kent noted today that the department required several outstanding edits for it to meet the measure set out by its own Sexual Identity Policy released last fall.

Katherine Mackwood, the president of the Yukon Teachers’ Association, argued today that the buck should stop with the minister of Education when religious teachings conflict with Department of Education policies.

“He or she needs to have the power to review the material being taught to see if it’s what we want in our community, in our territory, if it reflects who we are as a society here.”

The Duke Street school’s Living with Hope policy fosters “discrimination and hatred,” she said.

Mackwood also expressed concern that this issue has all Catholic Yukoners painted with the same brush.

In fact, many of the concerns about the policy have been raised by Vanier parents and students themselves.

“We value our Catholic schools and up until recently they have provided leadership in our community and direction and education for our children, and that doesn’t seem to be the case any longer,” she said. “So it needs to be looked at.”

Kent said he wants to focus on ensuring this issue is an isolated one that the community is able to move forward from.

“As a publicly funded school, I think it’s important for me to have a say in what happens in the schools” he said.

“Compromising the great work and the incredible history that we have with those schools in the territory, it’s not really a road that I want to go down,” he added, noting Vanier has produced many incredible graduates.

“The most important thing for me is that students feel safe, welcome, respected, and protected no matter what school they go to,” said Kent.

“I take this issue very seriously, and we’re moving to ensure that that environment exists not only in Vanier but in all schools throughout the territory.”

Matthew Grant, the director of cabinet communications, said in a follow-up interview that the minister is anxiously awaiting an updated policy that bridges the gap between the church’s religious beliefs and the department’s policy.

The bishop could not be reached for comment.

See letter.

CommentsAdd a comment

Stan Rogers

Mar 5, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Thanks to the very young and articulate students who stood up with their concerns.

Fred Smith

Mar 5, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Hopefully our wonderful Yukon Territory is not going to go to hell!

Arn Anderson

Mar 6, 2013 at 1:14 am

Get rid of this fantasy religous school run by the “moral majority” and bring back Jeckyll Junior High. While you are changing the name back to GA Jeckyll, bring back the original graffite behind Riverdale Market or whatever that place is now called, we also need Family Video 2 back, and to top it off, Park Avenue Arcade, ya, that place ruled. Any real Riverdale resident would know what I am talking about…Riverdale is looking run down simply because it lost its identity, now you can’t even walk your dog and have a beer without being harassed by the “serve and collect” Police or these damn good samaratians wannabes strolling the woods keeping an “eye” on you.

Doug Martens

Mar 6, 2013 at 2:10 am

Before there was a school policy on gay/lesbianism, before there was a country called Canada, before there was a school on the earth, there was a God who said that same sex attraction is a perversion and morally wrong. The God who said this is the Creator of us all and might know more than we do on the subject.
Now, as to dividing church and state, this seems appropriate because of the extreme divergence of our views on religious matters but trying to oust God himself from all education is madness beyond compare and a root cause of many disfunctions in our society.  If you doubt this to be true, just imagine a car dealership trying to divorce itself completely from the source of its stock in trade!


Mar 6, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Doug Martens:  Interesting take on history and theology.  My take on it would be that your opinion belongs as far in the past as the creation of the book.  As for the dealership metaphor I’d have to say that there is not enough love in the world so God would likely to be happy with whatever version he or she could get and secondly that if you have looked at the global population lately, that we don’t need to be making any more cars.

Arn Anderson

Mar 7, 2013 at 11:11 am

Doug Martens, please show me the unaltered biblical document written by God himself, not interpreted, not altered and no typos lost in translation. As far as I am concerned, men, women, persons created God in their own image, not the other way around.

Jennifer Ellis

Mar 7, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Sure, the policy will come down from the website but according to an interview on CBC today, the Bishop fully intends to continue to apply the policy in the school and that gays and lesbians who don’t like it can find another school to go to.

Perhaps this Bishop and his antiquated policies should go find funding other that public tax dollars for his school.

This preaching and practicing of intolerance hurts all of our kids regardless of their sexual orientation. I can’t help but wonder what they are preaching about the role of women in society or about healthy relationships.


Mar 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Cut public funding and let them teach whatever they want.  The people who want their kids taught that belief can support it with their money.

bobby bitman

Mar 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Aren’t schools supposed to be teaching reading and writing and ‘rithmatic?  Leave the hell fire for church on Sunday, and hey, bishop, leave them kids alone!

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