Ontario being selective about religious accomodation – Blizzard

— Christina Blizzard , QMI Agency

TORONTO – Welcome to Ontario — where we have “religious accommodation,” in our public schools.

Or not, depending on which religion needs accommodation.

If you’re a Catholic school and your parents, priests and a cardinal say they don’t want a Gay/Straight Alliance because it’s not in keeping with Catholic beliefs, not only will you have GSA’s forced upon you, you’ll be slammed as a homophobe for opposing them.

If, however, you’re a parent at Valley Park Public School in North York and you want to have Muslim prayers in the school cafeteria during school time on a Friday afternoon, that’s perfectly OK.

Let’s ignore the fact that girls are told to sit behind boys and girls who are menstruating are told to sit at the very back.

It’s OK to humiliate those girls and reinforce a medieval notion that women are inferior to men because it’s all done in the name of “religious accommodation.”

In a public school, on school time.

Now, Hamilton parent Steve Tourloukis says he wants to be notified ahead of time when his child’s class will be studying such issues as sex ed and homosexuality.

In a scrum earlier this week, Education Minister Laurel Broten pondered the nature of religious accommodation and talked about the Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC) and the Canadian Charter of Rights. She was unaware of the situation at Valley Park when I asked her about it.

How does telling women they’re second class fit within the OHRC or the charter of rights, I asked?

An aide got back to me later.

“Boards, like any other workplace or public institution, need to find ways to make religious accommodations. Through the Policy on Creed and the accommodation of religious observances, boards get direction from the OHRC on how public institutions should make religious accommodations,” said Grahame Rivers. “It’s not our place to determine what is part of someone’s faith observance and what is not.”

Unless, of course, you’re a Catholic and you’d prefer to have a “Rainbow club” in your school, instead of a “Gay/Straight Alliance.”

“Families are entitled to their beliefs and school boards must work with their local communities and families on a case-by-case basis to work out accommodations, if necessary,” Rivers said.

Premier Dalton McGuinty said Wednesday parents can already request their children be excused from classes on religious grounds.

“We have worked as a society long and hard to develop a publicly funded education system that shares with our children, all children of all different backgrounds, some basic values and tenets that help us build a strong, diverse, tolerant, respectful society,” McGuinty said.

Huh? Can this be the same premier who rejected faith-based schools as “sequestration and segregation,” in the 2007 election? How diverse, tolerant and respectful is it to tell little girls to sit at the back of the room?

Shockingly, the OHRC goes along with this nonsense.

Ash Wednesday is a day of devotion for Anglicans. You don’t see them demanding priests be allowed in public schools on that day to run a church service. Nor should they. Observant Anglicans take their kids out of school and take them to church for the service. They get a letter from the church so they’re not marked absent.

That’s how religious accommodation should work.

Don’t get me wrong. My kids went to public school. I don’t believe in censorship and selective education. I’m not advocating for parents to pull their kids from classes.

I do worry that we’re being selective about religious accommodation. There is no accommodation for Catholic beliefs — yet they have a constitutional right to their own schools. And Catholic schools do an excellent job of teaching those very morals, values and ethics that McGuinty talked about. But they get smacked upside the head.

Meanwhile, we accommodate groups that humiliate little girls.

That’s a very toxic message to send to kids

Read the original column at http://www.torontosun.com/2012/09/12/ontario-being-selective-about-religious-accomodation