Friday, 19 April 2002

I don't believe the public should fund Catholic (or other religious) schools

This is a letter I wrote six years ago and sent to all the local and provincial politicians I could find, and the media.

Dear Sirs or Madams,

An issue has come to my attention recently that has put various pieces of news into clearer perspective for me. Of all the devastating news from the political world in the last two years, this is the first that has made me feel it warrants contact with the government officials or media outlets. The issue is that of state-sponsored and publicly funded homophobic discrimination and homophobia. I think you or anybody would find it hard to disagree that this is an issue of local, provincial, and national importance with extremely far-reaching implications.

Part of what brought this to my attention were the recent and continuing events concerning Marc Hall, a student in the Durham district Catholic school board. He is a 17-year-old high school student whose school has denied him permission to attend his high school prom with his boyfriend, because, while the Catholic church now accepts homosexuals as people, it has yet to officially accept homosexual behaviour. The apparent doublespeak of this contradiction does not seem to bother the church as a whole, but we can be assured that more than a few members find the discrepancy downright absurd. For surely there can be no separation of the individual from the individual's behaviour, homosexual or otherwise.

I have no exceptional complaint with the Catholic church and no comment on the specific case of Marc Hall vs. the church, which should, as part of its right to freedom of religion, be allowed to believe, teach, and proselytize whatever it wishes. The problem, however, arises due to the fact that in Toronto, all over Ontario, and, I assume, many other jurisdictions across Canada, Catholic education is funded with taxpayers' dollars.

Which brings me to the other news clarifying this issue. That was the announcement by the provincial government in Ontario of tax credits for parents of private and religious school students, which would make all education in Ontario (private, religious, or public) funded at least partially by the taxpayer.

My personal view is that in today's multicultural Canada, there should be no direct relationship between the church (any denomination) and the state, and our official policy should be secular. This is partially due to the near impossibility of meeting the demands of dozens of distinct faiths, but mostly because all levels of government in Canada have enough tasks and duties to take care of and certainly enough to fund that it is unreasonable to expect the delegation of religious principles be included in their agenda. Especially if those principles are those of only one religion. Personal opinion aside, state-sponsored homophobic discrimination violates the Canadian Human Rights Act (as amended in 1996) and certainly doesn't fit into Canada's mandate for its people.

I can no longer support any political party or individual politician that does not consider this issue seriously and move to take immediate action to ameliorate the situation. The solution seems simple:

Publicly funded Catholic schools (and those of any denomination) must be sold or otherwise divested from the state portfolio, and
No religious or private education should be funded by taxpayer dollars now or in the future.

It is impossible to expect and unnecessary to hope for the Catholic church to change its policy of condemning the lifestyles of homosexual, bisexual, and transsexual people, but it is absolutely despicable that the discrimination is supported by all levels of government and the taxpayers of Canada.

Thank you very much for your time,
Adam Gorley

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