Catholic same sex policy nears completion

The Department of Education has signed off on the last draft of the territory's Catholic Schools One Heart policy on homosexuality.

The Department of Education has signed off on the last draft of the territory’s Catholic Schools One Heart policy on homosexuality.

Deputy minister Valerie Royle said on Thursday that she had just received the latest draft back from the Justice Department, which found that it does meet all the requirements of Yukon and Canadian law, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Now the document will go back to Whitehorse Bishop Gary Gordon. The decision about whether to implement it or not will rest with him, Royle said.

“It’ll be totally up to the bishop. We’re fine with the draft based on what Justice has said. If he wants it enacted at a public school, he needs to ask school council to approve it, and that’s up to him.

Gordon could present the document for approval as early as next Tuesday’s Vanier school council meeting. If he chooses not to present it at all, that will effectively end the whole affair.

“In the absence of a school-based policy, the department’s gender identity and sexual orientation policy stands, and has been in place this whole time,” Royle said.

The bishop’s original document, titled Living With Hope, Ministering by Love, Teaching in Truth, was removed from Whitehorse Catholic schools last year by the government after parents complained. Among its teachings, Living With Hope included passages from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, calling homosexual acts a “grave depravity” and homosexual urges an “inherent moral evil.” It also forbade the formation of a gay-straight alliance at the school, in conflict with the Education Department’s own policy.

At a public meeting in the spring, Royle promised that a new policy specific to Catholic schools would be drafted that would meet all Canadian laws.

She said it would be finished by the end of the summer.

That draft was finally presented at a meeting in October for public input, and many parents criticized it for simply whitewashing the controversial language of the original.

The passages from the Catechism were removed from the body of the document, but were still included in the footnotes. The draft also gives the bishop a veto over any student group or gay-straight alliance that he feels is contradicting the teachings of the church.

The latest draft incorporates public feedback provided at a school council meeting in October. Royle said she couldn’t provide the News with a copy of the new draft because it is the bishop’s document and won’t be made public until it is presented to the Catholic school councils.

Gordon was unavailable for comment on this story, and has not spoken to the News about the policy since the controversy first erupted last year.

He did tell The B.C. Catholic, an online Catholic newspaper that, “substantially the document will not change.”

That’s a big concern for Cynthia Matichak, one of the parents who first spoke out against the original documents.

“Was it changed? Because that’s the most important concern. If it was, shouldn’t there be another step where we can look at it?” Matichak said.

“Will the school councils come back to the Catholic community and ask us, or will they just make their own decision?” she said.

“By not presenting it right now, it keeps it in limbo,” said Leah White, another outspoken parent.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen with that policy. Right now, after everything awful that happened last year, (Vanier Catholic Secondary) school is solid. The acting principal, the teachers, this is really strong good stuff happening there, but we don’t know if he’s going to stay or not.

“This can’t be just, ‘he gets to sit on this forever.’ Sometimes it almost sounds like lip service. It seems like they’re trying to wait long enough until we just give up. I find it extremely disrespectful to the parents and the kids who have worked so hard on this,” White said.

Contact Jesse Winter at

Just Posted

Silver rules out HST, layoffs and royalty changes

Yukon’s financial advisory panel has released its final report

City of Whitehorse budgets $30M for infrastructure over four years

‘I think we’re concentrating on the most important things’

Yukon community liaison for MMIWG inquiry fired

Melissa Carlick, the Whitehorse-based community liaison officer for the national Missing and… Continue reading

Yukon man holds no grudge after being attacked by bison

‘The poor guy was only trying to fend off someone who he knew was trying to kill him’

Straight and true: the story of the Yukon colours

Michael Gates | History Hunter Last week, I participated in the 150th… Continue reading

Get ready to tumble: Whitehorse’s Polarettes to flip out at fundraiser

‘There’s a mandatory five-minute break at the end, just so people don’t fall over’

Alaska’s governor goes to China

There are very different rules for resource projects depending on which side of the border you’re on

Yukon survey shows broad support for legal pot

But there’s no consensus on retail and distribution models

Yukon government releases survey on the territory’s liquor laws

Changes could include allowing sale of booze in grocery stores

Get family consent before moving patients to other hospitals: NDP critic

‘Where is the respect and where is the dignity?’

Bill C-17 passes third reading in House of Commons

The bill, which will repeal controversial amendments made to YESAA by Bill S-6, will now go to Senate

White Pass and Yukon Route musical chugs on without director

The cast and crew of Stonecliff are pushing forward without Conrad Boyce, who went on medical leave

Most Read