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religious accomodation

Four words…

for you if you want your child removed from the public school classroom if something is being taught that somehow offends your sensibilities:

“Home schooling” and “private schools”.

Ontario has tried hard to accommodate parents with conservative religious views who want their children excused from sex education classes. Typically, that means some students head to the library when the health nurse comes to talk about condoms.

But now a small group of parents who are angry that they lost the battle to keep support clubs for gay students out of the schools are taking things to a new level by demanding the right to pull their kids out of a wide range of classroom discussions that do not conform to their particular beliefs.

Their demands are impractical, indeed unacceptable in a public school system. Everyone from the education minister down to individual principals must push back against this pernicious trend.

Something called “traditional values” form letters are trickling into boards across the Greater Toronto area from conservative Christian and Muslim parents. The generally ask that schools notify them before teachers deal with certain subjects, including evolution, the environment, wizardry or any discussion that portrays gay relationships as “natural, healthy or acceptable.” This demand for prior notice is unreasonable. The schools need to be able to deal with these matters as they come up.

What’s a teacher to do when a student starts reading his English essay about Harry Potter flying his broom to the recycling depot? Whistle down the reader while the class is cleared of objectors?

OK? Got that? Don’t expect the publicly funded school system to accommodate every single quirky “value” that you dream up.

Sheesh.

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Another “can someone explain to me?”

This time, why did 8 OCDSB Trustees vote against instructing staff to clarify what is meant by religious accommodation?

Religious Practice in Schools

“MOTION A” FAILED ON A VOTE OF 8-4

A. THAT staff be directed to prepare a report for the May 2012 Strategic Planning and Priorities Committee meeting detailing policy and procedure(s) currently in place which addresses the subject of religious services within schools, during school hours and ensure all schools adhere to applicable law; – THIS FAILED

I don’t get it. It was a simple request. No implications. Or are the 8 Trustees politically sensitive to what such a report might contain?

Trustee Fitzgerald – the sponsor of the motion – writes in today’s Citizen:

When we allow a minister, rabbi or imam into our schools to conduct religious services during the school day, we bring in the thin edge of a wedge. Other religions rightfully ask to hold religious services in our secular schools and this is precisely what happened at Toronto’s Valley Park Middle School. We may also find it increasingly difficult to say no to future requests for religious-based schools housed under the public board’s umbrella. If and when this comes to pass, say goodbye to the greatness of our secular public schools as parents flock to ensure that their children’s religious training is met during the school day.

I am sad that a fairly simple report could not be produced. I suppose I should say goodbye to the institution of the non-religious public school. Perhaps this is premature, but I would be far from alone in mourning its demise.

It is bad enough that we have a completely separate school system in this province existing side by side with the secular system.
A study. That’s all that was asked. A study.
I guess I’m just not smart enough to understand the subtleties of School Board politics.

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