Leanne Iskander is a 16-year-old lesbian who has led the fight to create a Gay-Straight Alliance club at her state-funded Catholic school in Ontario.
But last week the Toronto Catholic District School Board voted to put denominational rights before human rights. And now her principal is threatening her with disciplinary action.
Iskander, the founder of Catholic Students for GSAs (CS4GSA), and her parents were summoned for a meeting with St Joseph Catholic Secondary School principal Jeff Quenneville on Sept 1 to discuss her latest proposal for a GSA, Iskander says. The principal told her unequivocally that “an LGBT support group or GSA will never be permitted in any Catholic school because the bishops forbid them.”
And not just threatening Leanne. Also threatening her teachers:
A teacher at the school who asked to remain anonymous to protect his job says Quenneville had a clear message to staff about GSAs: “The principal said, ‘Our job is Catholicism first, curriculum second. The secular world may look at our beliefs and say we are bigots, but it is our beliefs and they are protected.’”
The teacher says Quenneville also made it clear that "if you didn't agree, then find another job."
You know, I think the board and principal are the ones who should be looking for other jobs. Because if the board thinks that religious rights trump human rights they're totally wrong. This is Canada not Iran.
If the principal thinks that tax payers should fund a school that puts Catholicism first, and the curriculum second, he's deluded. And yes he is a bigot, and dangerously ignorant.
I am writing to you from the emergency ward at Oakville-Trafalgar Memorial Hospital, where my son is recovering from an attempted suicide.
Every day he curses that he is gay because of the bullying and abuse he experiences.
There are many days that I have had to wipe eggs off of our windows and our home while some of the public shows its disapproval for my son. This is truly the ugly (side) of our society. My son is a loving boy and it is extremely sad that he is so often judged by his sexual orientation rather than the wonderful qualities of his character.
As for the bishops, those perfumed bigots are the last people to lecture anybody about morality.
Or be allowed to dictate the fate of children.
And as for their plans to ban the word "gay" and the gay rainbow symbol, those homophobes can just take a hike.
Oh boy. I think it's time to roll out the Gay Rainbow Machine of Mass
robo-rainbow from mudlevel on Vimeo.
So bigots everywhere can see that beautiful symbol of tolerance, even with their blinkers on.
Time also to support Leanne and all her friends who are struggling to make our schools kinder, gentler, better places for everyone. Support them, and send her a message of encouragement.
And of course, since I am what I am, and I've been battling bullies and bigots as long as I can remember. And always will.
I think it's a really EXCELLENT excuse to play this song again...
And hope the principal gets the message.
Bigots are ugly.
Bullying is EVIL.
Hooray for Leanne and her friends.
Hooray for the Gay-Straight Alliance...
h/t Orwell's Bastard
Thanks for the props and for the comment over at my place.
It's an ugly thing, but I think it's pointing toward a happy ending. These assholes have all but painted a huge bullseye on their backs, and as one of the tweeters I cite suggests, this looks like the beginning of the end for public funding of sectarian education.
Yeah. Dude should have done what the Catholic Church has always done.
Figure out where the money is coming from and act accordingly.
You snooze you lose Sky-Pilot.
I'm not sure which is the road to take: to get rid of religious schools, or to get rid of section 29 of the charter which allows this kind of crap to continue:
"29. Nothing in this Charter abrogates or derogates from any rights or privileges guaranteed by or under the Constitution of Canada in respect of denominational, separate or dissentient schools."
I'm going to see if the GSA at my school can make this issue their priority this school year. Thanks for this fire-under-my-ass kind of post!
hi O.B...thank YOU for bringing this story to my attention. You know it's a bit embarrassing to have a straight person beat me to a story like this. But since it's you I don't mind a bit.;)However, sadly I don't share your optimism. With an Ontario election coming up I don't expect any politicians to have the guts to say or do anything.
But yes, I know there's a constitutional problem, but when religious rights are placed before human rights, something MUST be done...
hi Thwap...I blame the whole thing on the ghastly Pope Benedict. Most Catholics I know are better than him, but clearly the principal isn't.
And as my Mum said, he's not much of a Christian either.
Oh well. I'm counting on Leanne and her friends to give him a hard time, and any publicity about bullying can only help the cause...
hi Marie...I must confess I don't know how we're going to solve this problem. But something has got to be done. Bullying is already a huge problem so this is the last thing we need.
I think I'll start by sending a letter or an e-mail to the board and the principal.
And I can't promise it won't be rude...;)
You can also try complaining to the College of Teachers if you find that a teacher is guilty of some sort of professional misconduct. Read their rules and regulations yourself and decide.
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