Catholic School Board Breaking the Law, Complaint Alleges

Centre for Inquiry (CFI) calls on the Ontario government to defund religious schools

TORONTO, ONTARIO — (March 11, 2014) – The Mississauga Catholic School Board is systematically denying students their constitutional right to form Gay Straight Alliances, in direct violation of Bill 13, Accepting Schools Act.

In a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, student Christopher Karas documents a coordinated effort by the Mississauga Catholic Board, directed by Catholic bishops, and executed by staff at École Secondaire Catholique Sainte-Famille, to impede the formation and functioning of a group to support gay and lesbian students.

“I decided to start a group to combat homophobia at my school,” said Karas. “I couldn’t imagine that move would be the catalyst for a new round of homophobic bullying, this time from the administration.”

The school took 20 months to approve Karas’ request, then stipulated that the school principal or vice-principal uncharacteristically oversee all meetings, and now censors the group’s identity through a  ban on gay names and symbols.

“The Catholic school system’s report card is abysmal,” said Justin Trottier of the Centre for Inquiry (CFI). “Banning atheist books, suspending pro-life students and violating the constitutional rights of LGBTQ youth. Constant human right conflicts are inherent in a tax-payer funded religious school system. CFI is therefore calling on the Ontario government to finally defund Roman Catholic schools.”

Karas will organize “Dare to Stand Out,” a conference (May 5-9) hosted by Jer’s Vision, to train students across Ontario in how to launch GSAs. Despite intense student interest, there are zero GSAs in Catholic schools, which Karas plans to change.

His efforts are supported by the CFI, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Egale Canada, Queer Ontario and other pro-rights groups.

An exclusive interview with Karas has been posted online to Think Again! TV:

Ask the Religion Experts: Should we boycott the Sochi Olympics?

Here is the response from Kevin Smith, CFI’s Chair of the Board and acting National Executive Director.

Click here to see the contributions from the other members of the panel, and to add your comments.

The Olympic flame, lit in honour of the gods; the torch relay, sponsored by Coca-Cola and other mega-rich corporations, is making its way to Sochi.

The gods played an integral role in the Olympics’ genesis, and more than 2,500 years later, it’s discouraging to humanists that the myths of men and women continue to intrude in an event that should celebrate diversity.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is participating in the same race as many third-world countries, where attacking homosexuality is all the rage; people motivated by goodwill for themselves rather than towards others.

American Christian evangelicals, their influence waning at home, have invaded god-fearing Uganda to spread the morals of their homophobic creator, one whose every command must be obeyed if they are to have eternal life. They have been victorious, although the punishment for being gay is merely life in prison and not, as some had prayed for, the death penalty.

Similarly, Putin, whose policies are failing at home, attempts to solidify his base by taking a page from the fundamentalists, cozying up to the corrupt Orthodox Church and finding a minority scapegoat. Instability requires provocation.

Some people have called for a boycott. However, the 1980 boycott did not shame the Russians from leaving Afghanistan, and it’s doubtful a boycott of the 1936 games would have stopped Hitler from slaughtering Jews and other minorities, including homosexuals.

For two weeks, these Olympics will provide an opportunity for a rainbow coalition of people to take a stance against Putin’s abuse of LGBTQ rights. The world will be watching.

As it was with slavery, the world corrects the Bible, and so it will regarding its anti-gay agenda. The holy scriptures remain the same, but the practice eventually changes.

Throughout history, when it comes to human rights, religion has been the last one to reach the finish line.

The Revisionaries in Vernon

Screening of the documentary, The Revisionaries, in collaboration with the Vernon Public Library.

Thursday, 26th September, 7pm

Vernon Public Library, 2800 30th Ave, Vernon.

From the website for The Revisionaries:

The theory of evolution and a re-write of US history are caught in the crosshairs when an unabashed creationist seeks re-election as chairman of America’s most influential board of education.

In Austin, Texas, fifteen people influence what is taught to the next generation of American children. Once every decade, the highly politicized Texas State Board of Education rewrites the teaching and textbook standards for its nearly 5 million schoolchildren. And when it comes to textbooks, what happens in Texas affects the nation as a whole. Don McLeroy, a dentist, Sunday school teacher, and avowed young-earth creationist, leads the Religious Right charge. After briefly serving on his local school board, McLeroy was elected to the Texas State Board of Education and later appointed chairman. During his time on the board, McLeroy has overseen the adoption of new science and history curriculum standards, drawing national attention and placing Texas on the front line of the so-called “culture wars.” n his last term, McLeroy, aided by Cynthia Dunbar, an attorney from Houston and professor of Law at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, finds himself not only fighting to change what Americans are taught, but also fighting to retain his seat on the board. Challenged by Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, and Ron Wetherington, an anthropology professor from Southern Methodist University in Texas, McLeroy faces his toughest term yet. THE REVISIONARIES follows the rise and fall of some of the most controversial figures in American education through some of their most tumultuous intellectual battles.


CFI condemns attacks on religious groups in Egypt

Centre for Inquiry Canada, the premiere Canadian venue for secular humanists, skeptics and freethinkers, joins the Center for Inquiry Transnational in expressing

outrage and dismay at the growing instability in Egypt that has resulted in scores of Christian churches and homes damaged or destroyed, hundreds of people dead, and others detained – many on account of their religious affiliations.

CFI Canada applauds Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s statement:

“Canada is deeply concerned by reports overnight of deadly violence in Egypt. We urge all parties to refrain from violence and engage in a meaningful political dialogue for the good of all Egyptians. . . . The two parties must immediately sit down together, reconcile their differences and work tirelessly to halt this deadly standoff.”

Baird urges “all Egyptians to show restraint and resolve in the coming days.”

CFI Canada calls on Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom to work with CFI Canada to oppose violations of freedom of religion, denounce violence against human-rights defenders and condemn attacks on the religious and non-religious in Egypt and around the world.