Edmonton archbishop slams Catholic trustees over transgender policy debate – CP

Edmonton archbishop slams Catholic trustees over transgender policy debate – CP

by ahnationtalk on January 22, 2016235 Views

Source: The Canadian Press
Jan 21, 2016

Edmonton’s archbishop blasted the city’s separate school trustees Thursday saying their division on a policy for gay and transgender students is a betrayal of the Catholics who elected them.

Richard Smith wrote in a letter that Edmonton Catholic school trustees should be speaking with a unified voice.

“The words and actions of some trustees, rather than defending and upholding all that is good in Catholic education, have caused harm and hostility,” he said. “In doing so, they have betrayed the trust placed in them by Catholic electors.”

Catholics are supposed to respect their bodies as God created them, Smith added.

“I urge these trustees to review the Trustees’ Code of Conduct to which they agreed and reflect seriously on their commitment to the vocation of Catholic school trustee,” he said.

In October, Alberta Education Minister David Eggen stepped into a feud among Edmonton Catholic trustees who disagreed on crafting a policy to protect gay and transgender students. It started after the family of a seven-year-old transgender girl fought for her right to use the girls washroom at school filed a human rights complaint.

Eggen hired an outside adviser to help the board pass an inclusive policy and last week delivered a suggested set of guidelines that he wants all 61 school boards in the province to follow.

They include allowing transgender students to use the washroom of their choice and play on sports teams they identify with.

Boards have until the end of March to submit draft copies of their policies for government review. Alberta’s School Act mandates that schools must have policies to make schools safe and welcoming to LGBTQ students.

The archbishop said in the letter that while some of the government’s guidelines are constructive and reasonable, others go against the principles of the church.

“Of course, we know that some young people struggle with issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, and that educators are called to respond with sensitivity, respect, mercy, and compassion. Catholic educators are already doing this,” Smith said.

“However, a Catholic school cannot reasonably be expected to deny its faith base in its day-to-day operations and activities.”

He said school trustees must follow not only the laws of the province, but also the laws of the church.

Eggen said Smith’s letter had “some pretty clear words” for the board. He wouldn’t say if he is considering dissolving the board and is awaiting a report from the facilitator.

“We’re moving down a path here that is very unfortunate and it has very serious implications,” he said.

He also plans to meet with church leaders before the end of the month.

The Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association has also said it is disappointed with the guidelines process and wants more input.

INDEX: EDUCATION NATIONAL RELIGION POLITICS

 

Send To Friend Email Print Story

Comments are closed.

NationTalk Partners & Sponsors Learn More