OECTA openly supports EGALE
The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association’s open support of homosexual clubs in Catholic schools has put them at odds with an explicit directive from the Ontario bishops.
In December, LifeSiteNews reported that the union, which represents 45,000 teachers in Ontario, was partnering with EGALE, Canada’s most influential homosexual lobby group. EGALE was one of the leading advocates for same-sex “marriage” and is known for making vitriolic attacks on the Catholic Church when it opposes their agenda.
In particular, OECTA made a $1,000 donation to the organization’s MyGSA.ca project, which is part of EGALE’s national campaign to promote gay-straight alliance clubs (GSAs) in schools. OECTA has claimed that GSAs aim to provide “safe” environments in schools for homosexual students, but pro-family advocates charge that the groups encourage the normalization and affirmation of the homosexual lifestyle.
In a December 22 story on the issue by the Toronto Sun, OECTA president James Ryan defended their support of EGALE and of GSAs. “I don’t actually see the contradiction,” said Ryan. “OECTA decided to join EGALE because both OECTA and EGALE are committed to fighting any type of bullying.” He added: “Certainly the Catholic Church is against bullying.”
Yet, in a January 2010 letter the Ontario bishops stated explicitly that gay-straight alliances are not permitted in the Catholic schools. “‘Gay-straight alliances’ imply a self-identification with sexual orientation that is often premature among high school students,” wrote Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Cornwall, then-chair of the Ontario bishops’ education commission, in a letter to Catholic directors of education. “Because of this, the bishops feel that such an activity is not to be encouraged.”
Yet in the first week of January, Ryan again defended OECTA’s support of EGALE and the GSAs in response to a complaint e-mail from a retired teacher. His Jan. 4 e-mail was copied to Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto and Bishop Nicola De Angelis of Peterborough.
Ryan acknowledged again OECTA’s donation to EGALE and said they had consulted on the MyGSA.ca project’s content, but said it was EGALE who had labeled OECTA as a “partner.”
“The sole purpose of the ‘My GSA’ project was to stop the bullying of LGBT students,” Ryan wrote the retired teacher. “We have discussed equity and inclusion at the Institute for Catholic Education table and Diversity committees have been supported by all of the members of the Catholic educational community.”
Ryan told the retired teacher that LifeSiteNews’ Dec. 20, 2010 article on OECTA’s relationship with EGALE was “inflammatory and biased,” and claimed that it is in fact LifeSiteNew that is at odds with the bishops. “They have proven themselves to be no friend of OECTA, the Ontario bishops, Catholic Development and Peace, the Ministry of Education, inclusion or publicly funded Catholic education,” he wrote.
Last month, when asked by the Catholic Register whether OECTA would support “Proud Rainbow Voices,” a new support group for openly-homosexual teachers that is trying to reach out to Catholic schools, Ryan replied that they would have to determine if the group is “in line with OECTA’s general policies.” He said, “I’m aware of the existence of the group but don’t know all of its particulars. OECTA does support all of our members, including our gay and lesbian members.”
In the same article, Ryan is quoted supporting including books with same-sex families in classroom materials: “It’s a good idea that we use curriculum material that are anti-discriminatory, but it’s not OECTA’s call.”
While Ryan has been an open advocate of GSAs despite the bishops’ directive, others have simply suggested that the groups continue under a different name. At OECTA’s annual general meeting in March, EGALE’s executive director, Helen Kennedy, led a panel called “That’s so gay” which intended to promote inclusion of homosexuals. She told the audience of teachers to promote homosexual groups, saying, “Call them whatever you want, human rights clubs, social justice clubs, that are dedicated to changing unhealthy school cultures.”
OECTA’s support of EGALE has been denounced by numerous faithful Catholic teachers, who are forced to pay union dues which can amount to nearly $1,000 a year. Most teachers have refused to comment publicly, however, out of fear of retaliation from the powerful union. Many are concerned also because OECTA has been given oversight of the certification process for religion teachers in the Catholic system.
A version of this article originally appeared Jan. 7 at LifeSiteNews.com and is reprinted with permission.