Religious Groups React to Anti-Bullying Legislation Passed in Ontario

Premier Dalton McGuinty just announced that under new anti-bullying legistlation, students will be able to set up gay-straight alliance clubs (though the name may be different) in ALL public schools in Ontario.

“We’re going to require that, at every school where students request that this be put in place, they be permitted to organize themselves with a gay-straight alliance.”

It will come as no shock that various religious groups are unhappy about this.

Charles McVety, of the Institute for Canadian Values, stated, “To force, especially Christian classrooms or schools, to have homosexual clubs would of course be an affront to their family values.”

What about the affront to those students that have identified themselves as gay or bisexual or transgendered or… (possibly coming from religious homes themselves) and are struggling desperately to be accepted both within their familes and within their peer group? Don’t they have rights too?

McVety went on to add:

“And what does this have to do with bullying? Nothing.”

Ummm… because gay kids don’t get bullied, right? Or is it possible that he could be implying that when you make fun of, harass, beat, or torment a student who has identified as being gay, that’s different than “real” bullying of an innocent child?

This particular news article has a lot of other “inspiring” quotes from the religious in case the one above isn’t enough.

It is my understanding that this anti-bullying legislation encompasses more than just the requirement that students be permitted to form these groups if they so choose. It also allows schools to permanently expel students for bullying behaviours, rather than just being limited to suspensions. This is the most severe act a school can take and the message is clear…bullying is NOT acceptable. Period.

There also apparently is information in the legislation broadening the definition of gender and sexual identity, something that has the religious groups blowing smoke out of their ears. Having not read the legislation myself, I’m hesitant to comment about specifics, but I think it’s about time that sexuality and gender were acknowledged as more of a continuum rather than a black and white concept.

Bullying is a HUGE issue everywhere and many attempts are being made around the country to address this issue and now it’s coming from the top.

“We’re taking policies with respect to bullying and giving them the force of law by introducing those by means of a bill and ensuring that boards must take concrete steps when it comes to preventing, intervening and applying progressive consequences…”

Well good for you McGuinty! I’m sure students around the province of Ontario are thanking you today, regardless of their sexual orientation.

About katied

Katie is a Child & Family Therapist who works with children who have experienced trauma or abuse. She currently resides in beautiful British Columbia, Canada.

  • Sara Mallory

    What these religious people fail to understand is that even our religious schools are paid for by public money.  If they want to discriminate against kids they should darn well pay for their own schools.  I’d prefer it if they did pay for their own schools.

    I hope McGuinty sticks to his guns, unlike he did with the sex-ed kerfuffle

    • Anonymous

      If they want to discriminate against kids they should darn well pay for
      their own schools.  I’d prefer it if they did pay for their own schools.

      I wouldn’t. At least this way, the government *can* prevent them from discrimination. Let them have their own schools and those poor kids have even less chance of having their indoctrination countered.

      Actually, my ideal would be to mandate that every child attend public school or homeschool with a government approved secular curriculum. That way, kids are ensured an education that is pro-science, pro-diversity, pro-feminist, and anti-bigotry.

      • Guest

         So you are FOR government taking over and removing the freedoms that we have here in the United States?  Freedom to choose.  It would seem that you want to have your choices, but others cannot have theirs?  Who is the bigot now?

    • Anonymous

      Oh, and I hope he brings back the sex-ed thing. Maybe he will if he gets his majority back during a by-election.

      • Erik Cameron

        I think there was a lot of sex ed related stuff in this bill. Unless I’m mistaken he has a majority -1 and the support of the NDP leadership on this issue.

  • Ian

    I haven’t seen the legislation, but if the anti-bullying strategy is a zero-tolerance or punishment technique then it’s doomed to fail. As good skeptics we should be seeking evidenced-based techniques to combat social ills. Zero-tolerance policies have been repeatedly shown to fail and to unduly affect low-income students and racial minorities.

    It would be better to institute a comprehensive program that promotes tolerance, as well as some punishment. We also need to try to educate those who bully as to the consequences for their victims. If a kid says “fag”, we need to explain why that’s offensive and not just kick him out of school.

    Of course, the Ontario policy may include this, but it bears emphasizing.

    • Erik Cameron

      I’m not a fan of zero tolerance, and luckily this legislation is not zero tolerance. That said, in public schools we’re dealing with children who can’t protect themselves the way adults can (with the law). Because of this I think we need to lean more towards protecting victims than rehabilitating bullies.
      Mcguinty himself called expulsion “a last resort”
      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/expelling-bullies-a-last-resort-mcguinty-says/article2257557/

      • Bo Tait

        And even then the expulsion is not the last resort.

        York University’s Debra Pepler, one of Canada’s leading experts on bullying, said if students are now going to face expulsion, they need “alternative classrooms, alternative schools where there is extensive mental health support — that’s what these youth need.”
        They must learn to relate in a positive way, and when students “struggle in math, we give them support and tutoring in math,” she added.
        “When they struggle with social and emotional development, it seems to be we should come in with every resource we have.”

        and from McGuinty: Expelled students can rehabilitate themselves back into learning.

        http://mobile.thestar.com/mobile/NEWS/article/1094683

      • Bo Tait

        And even then the expulsion is not the last resort.

        York University’s Debra Pepler, one of Canada’s leading experts on bullying, said if students are now going to face expulsion, they need “alternative classrooms, alternative schools where there is extensive mental health support — that’s what these youth need.”
        They must learn to relate in a positive way, and when students “struggle in math, we give them support and tutoring in math,” she added.
        “When they struggle with social and emotional development, it seems to be we should come in with every resource we have.”

        and from McGuinty: Expelled students can rehabilitate themselves back into learning.

        http://mobile.thestar.com/mobile/NEWS/article/1094683

      • Bo Tait

        And even then the expulsion is not the last resort.

        York University’s Debra Pepler, one of Canada’s leading experts on bullying, said if students are now going to face expulsion, they need “alternative classrooms, alternative schools where there is extensive mental health support — that’s what these youth need.”
        They must learn to relate in a positive way, and when students “struggle in math, we give them support and tutoring in math,” she added.
        “When they struggle with social and emotional development, it seems to be we should come in with every resource we have.”

        and from McGuinty: Expelled students can rehabilitate themselves back into learning.

        http://mobile.thestar.com/mobile/NEWS/article/1094683

      • Bo Tait

        And even then the expulsion is not the last resort.

        York University’s Debra Pepler, one of Canada’s leading experts on bullying, said if students are now going to face expulsion, they need “alternative classrooms, alternative schools where there is extensive mental health support — that’s what these youth need.”
        They must learn to relate in a positive way, and when students “struggle in math, we give them support and tutoring in math,” she added.
        “When they struggle with social and emotional development, it seems to be we should come in with every resource we have.”

        and from McGuinty: Expelled students can rehabilitate themselves back into learning.

        http://mobile.thestar.com/mobile/NEWS/article/1094683

  • TheG

    Something I want to see somebody ask these religious nut jobs that oppose this type of legislation a really hard question:

    If you aren’t trying to force religion on other people, why is it ONLY religious groups that oppose this kind of thing?  I’m not talking about groups with religious members, but groups who central purpose revolves around religion.

    • Silo Mowbray

      TheG, good question. The cynic in me wants to say they’d respond with “Because it just so happens that religion has a lock on morality, so religious groups would OBVIOUSLY be the ones to speak up about immoral behavior.” Which makes me very angry while at the same time confused to the point of wondering if I had slipped into a parallel universe where stupid people get to vote. But it’s not a parallel universe… :-(

    • Truth

      The opposition is not to the law against bullying, it is in the educational material it enforces.  Rather than stopping bullying it will promote bullying the other way around towards kids from “religious” homes because they are trying to follow Biblical values and choose not to “try” homosexuality.  
      The curriculum is forcing kids to “consider their inner nature” because maybe a boy isn’t actually a boy, or girl actually a girl.  Little kids don’t need this forced on them.  There is enough garbage they have to wade through with broken homes and all already.
      If you want to stop bullying, I complete agree that you work with the bullies because usually they have some kind of mental trauma that causes them to want to lash out as easy targets.

  • Tim

    The following seems to be the most ironic statement in the referenced news article…

    “‘This legislation proposes that children be indoctrinated to reject their parents’ faith and their parents’ family values, and that’s an affront,’ said Kaplan.”
    Indoctrination to reject indoctrination. Who knew? Perhaps they should be more concerned of the students values and less concerned that they may “reject their parents’ faith and their parents’ family values”. Apparently Mr. Kaplan does not comprehend the difference between being indoctrinated and being informed so the students can make their own choices.

    • Demonhype

      It still amazes me that these people can’t see the difference between believing in their faith and bullying/harassing/oppressing/persecuting others because of that belief.

      You don’t like gays?  That’s fine.  You don’t have to be one, you don’t have to be friends with one, and y0u are within your rights to dislike them for whatever reason.  You can even express that in the appropriate situations (for example, a class discussion in civics about gay marriage or something).  However, you are not within your rights to bully, beat up, harass, or otherwise oppress those people.  You can disapprove of the gay kid at school, but you do not get to follow behind them at all times calling them an abomination.  You don’t get to beat him or hold his head in the toilet or throw your empty soda cans at him in the cafeteria.

      And even though their unapologetic existence feels somehow like “persecution” to you, it is not.  You are in an overprivileged majority, so stop acting like the fact that a gay or atheist exists openly and unapologetically without hiding it as if it were a shameful venereal disease makes you a victim in any way.

      Oh, your religion requires you to harass, bully, beat and persecute gays?  Sorry, you don’t get to do that.  No one’s religious liberties extend to harassing, bullying, beating or persecuting other people.  If we let people engage in violence and persecution just because they believe an invisible man told them  to do so, this world would go up in flames in ten minutes.  It’s a rule that benefits you as much as all your intended targets even if you don’t realize it, and without it you simply couldn’t have a civilized society.

      • The Other Guy

        This basically takes the cake on how I feel about religion and their hate. Good job Demonhype!

  • Rich Wilson

    I spent most of the first 30 years of my life in Canada.  I think we idealize things we miss.  Everything was better in the “Good ‘ol days”, and I now have trouble reconciling the country I hold dear to my heart with what I’m reading lately.

    Time to go youtube me some Clara Hughes…

  • http://twitter.com/chemikhazi Jeiel Aranal

    Here in the Philippines, we haven’t even had anti discrimination passed yet and already we have these religious assholes from the Catholic church whining on about how they can’t preach their hatred for the LGBT if this legislation passes:

    “Imbong said the bill violated religious freedom and the “no prior restraint” accorded by the law to freedom of speech.“The government may not penalize a religious organization for … excluding a person from Church responsibilities, for example, based upon that person’s moral behavior which could include the practice or promotion of homosexuality,” she said.”http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/106981/cbcp-wants-anti-discrimination-bill-cleansed-of-provisions-on-gay-rights

    • Kamaka

      Anti-gay hysteria in the Philippines? Who’d of thought?

      I found people in Manila to be far more tolerant of  ‘the gay’ than folks here in the land of the free.

  • Silo Mowbray

    My head continues to explode. WTF is a “gay activist”? The Jesus Freaks use the term as a pejorative for whatever reason. I’m a “human rights activist” but Fundies don’t want to admit to that being a far more accurate term because they’ll have to confess to being douchie douche-bags of the douchiest order.

  • Anonymous

    However well intentioned, legislation like this is almost impossible to write, while taking into account the vast gray area that exist in human interactions. What it does is give administrators almost unlimited power in their discretionary authority, and we all know how well absolute power usually ends up. It’s like the power to “combat terrorism” that allows the government to do all sorts of stuff to suspects and removes their rights. The word “bully” is impossible to define well in a manner that covers all real world situations.

    • Anonymous

      This inane argument could be used to prevent setting up any kind of regulation or law dealing with harassment. Why is it possible to set up anti-discrimination legislation and regulation for adult workplaces, harassment and stalking laws to deal with adult relationships off- and online, but it’s “almost impossible” to do it for kids? Give me a fucking break.

      • Anonymous

        All right “almost impossible to write” might be an overstatement. However I more accurate statement would be “almost never written well”. The reason it is a little easier to write for adults is that enforcing the law uses the court system, which is less likely to get tied up for ridiculous stuff, and affords more protections to the accused. If the implementation of an anti bullying law allows school administrators to exerciser their own discretion including permanent expulsion from school, it gives an opportunity for horrible decisions with little recourse. If history serves an example when such an opportunity is available it is likely at some point to occur. But I appreciate your request for a “fucking break”, it seems it could potentially help you chill out a bit.

  • NorDog

    “Ummm… because gay kids don’t get bullied, right? Or is it possible that
    he could be implying that when you make fun of, harass, beat, or torment
    a student who has identified as being gay, that’s different than “real”
    bullying of an innocent child?”

    Ummmm…or maybe because the opposition to bullies doesn’t (or shouldn’t) give a crap about the motivation of the bully.

    Beyond the false dichotomy posed by your two rhetorical questions, your implying that the guy is okay with bullying gay kids is base calumny.

  • Shouldbeworkin’

    ” …students will be able to set up gay-straight alliance clubs (though the name may be different) in ALL public schools in Ontario.”

    “To force, especially Christian classrooms or schools, to have homosexual clubs …”

    I’m sorry, but does “public”  mean something different in Canada than it does in the US? 

    • Anonymous

      Yes. Due to certain circumstances that prevailed at the time the country was founded, Catholic schools were guaranteed public funding if there was enough demand in a jurisdiction (the same applied to Protestant schools where they were in the minority). Fast forward a century and a half and the Protestant schools in Ontario are now secular or multicultural, while the Catholic schools are still Catholic (with full public funding). A few years ago, the leader of the Progressive Conservatives proposed to “amend” this discriminatory legacy by funding any faith school that met the demographical criteria. This solution was not a well-received plan, and he ended up perhaps losing an election because of it. Other provinces, e.g. Newfoundland & Quebec, have already moved to a single* public, secular system.

      *well, not really single, because we also have constitutional language guarantees

    • Anonymous

      Yes unfortunately in Ontario the pubic …non religious schools…and the catholic schools …are funded from the public purse.
      No other religion is treated that way.

      This travesty came about in 1971 due to an outgoing head of the Ontario government Bill Davis deciding to fund catholic schools.
      Pressure to do so came from the catholic church at the time.

      • Anonymous

        That’s a tad simplistic. The Catholic school system already had funding up until grade 10 via the BNA act. So the government was saying “we pay for K-OAC for non-Catholics, but only for K-10 for Catholics”–clearly discriminatory. It was easier to agree to pay for the extra 3 years rather than dismantle the whole system which would require a Constitutional amendment. This happened in 1984, by the way, not ’71.  

        • Anonymous

          “That’s a tad simplistic”

          Simplistic or not ….BNA Act or not …public money should not fund religious schools of any stripe.

          John Tory learned that the hard way.

          If any religious organization wishes to set up facilities to teach anything other than “fact based secular subjects” then they should find the money from within that particular faith community and not expect others who hold radically different views to pay to teach their children anything about the catholic faith.

          The Vatican is one of the richest financial entities on earth.
          Let the Canadian catholics ask mother church to fund there schools.

          Canadian society all grown up now and far more sophisticated than when the BNA Act was crafted.
          We are a long way distant from ghosts and goblins and things that go bump n the night.

          • Anonymous

            You sound like an ignorant fool. The provisions of the BNA were extremely sophisticated, and, if I might say, part of what gives Canada our distinctive culture. The fathers of Confederation were presented a situation that could have resulted in decades of civil war and likely takeover by the US, and crafted out of it one of the first societies in which minority rights were explicitly protected. It may be time to turn the page and move on so that all publicly funded schools are secular, but it’s rather ridiculous for you to be angry at Bill Davis for not single-handedly passing a Constitutional amendment to do so back in the mid-eighties (when we were all still smarting from the failure to get Quebec on board, btw).

            • Anonymous

              “You sound like an ignorant fool. ”
              My but religion can get our knickers in a twist….

              A man’s manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait.N0 matter how slice and dice this subject funding religion from the public purse in the context of 2011 should not be permitted.Dragging in historical argument and silly threats of civil war cannot alter the “current” Canadian society’s constant move to ward secularism and away from superstitions dogma.  The religious should fund there own faiths.

            • Anonymous

              “You sound like an ignorant fool. ”
              My but religion can get our knickers in a twist….

              A man’s manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait.N0 matter how slice and dice this subject funding religion from the public purse in the context of 2011 should not be permitted.Dragging in historical argument and silly threats of civil war cannot alter the “current” Canadian society’s constant move to ward secularism and away from superstitions dogma.  The religious should fund there own faiths.

              • Anonymous

                You are the one who dragged in the historical argument, and as a historian* I found your statements to be ignorant. That’s what has my knickers in a twist, not your criticism of supporting with public funds a faith-based school system  in the 21st century.

                If you’d read my comments on this thread, you’d know that I don’t even like the idea of private faith-based schools.

                *by education, not by employment

          • Anonymous

            You sound like an ignorant fool. The provisions of the BNA were extremely sophisticated, and, if I might say, part of what gives Canada our distinctive culture. The fathers of Confederation were presented a situation that could have resulted in decades of civil war and likely takeover by the US, and crafted out of it one of the first societies in which minority rights were explicitly protected. It may be time to turn the page and move on so that all publicly funded schools are secular, but it’s rather ridiculous for you to be angry at Bill Davis for not single-handedly passing a Constitutional amendment to do so back in the mid-eighties (when we were all still smarting from the failure to get Quebec on board, btw).

  • Kit

    Dalton McGuinty just got my vote for the next provincial election. 

  • Anonymous

    Great summary -

    Got half way to sending that article to Hemant yesterday before I got distracted. I thought it was particularly cringeworthy when they try to guilt Premier McGuinty as a ‘Bad Catholic’ for bringing forward this important legislation. Frankly, it’s McVety who makes all Catholic’s look ‘bad’ every time he opens his ignorant mouth.

    As a note to those commenting, and any who may have tried to read the law – the Bill has not been introduced into the legislature yet. There is a Bill introduced by the Progressive Conservative opposition called the ‘Anti-Bullying Act’, but this isn’t the Bill McGuinty refers to (and it doesn’t do the things the government’s Bill will do).

  • Sue Blue

    Interesting how the religious always see any type of legislation to ensure equal treatment of all people as discrimination against religion….which just points out the basic problem of all religions.  Without the ability to discriminate between “us and them” and exclude those who don’t think like they do, religion has no real point at all and no reason to exist.

  • Alt+3

    >The Institute for Canadian Values.

    What Canada are these idiots from? We, as a country, I believe, have showed, time and again, that we are committed to at least trying to uphold every Canadians rights.

    What these people think are “canadian values” are anything but. That’s not Canada. That’s not even Alberta.

    • Anonymous

      It’s fundie doublespeak. Just like when they talk about “family values”, “real women”, or “pro-life”. They’re pretending that only they are upholding true Canadian values. The rest of us are fighting for Satan’s army.

      • Anonymous

        The one that really gets me are the right-wing theocratic organizations with words like “liberty” and “freedom” in their names

        • Anonymous

          They don’t use those ones so much up north here. We have (had?) one using “social justice” in its title, but I think “liberty” and “freedom” as buzzwords would come off as too American sounding.

          • Erik Cameron

            Heh, I wonder if buzzwords like ‘social’ come off in America as too commie sounding.

  • http://evolutionguide.wordpress.com/ William Bell

    Hey, we are funding the catholic schools to, can we do this in Catholic schools (I am an atheist and I would join one of these programs in the Catholic High School I am in).

    • Anonymous

      Right now, it’s up to school boards and individual schools whether they’ll allow Gay-Straight Alliance clubs. Once this law passes (and it will–the NDP will definitely support the bill), they won’t be able to stop you and your fellow students from starting one up. There’s more info here: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/parents/safeschools.html

  • Erik Cameron

    McGuinty also did an ‘It get’s better’ commercial.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tAzhbGHZrE

  • Morgan

    Reading some of the comments on the linked article is just saddening. So many completely miss the point and if I read another ‘I hate bullying in any form but…’ comment I may just scream

    • Michael Appleman

      Nice. Reminds me of “I’m not racist but…”

  • http://walterhouse.wordpress.com/ Philip Walterhouse

    This homophobia from the Catholic schools has been a problem for the last year.  I think what needs to and eventually will happen is for the provincial government to stop funding Catholic Schools.  

    They are the only ones who have put up a fuss.  


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X