Why are we funding Catholic schools?

Why are we funding Catholic schools? The other day our son asked us if he could go to Christ the King Elementary School in Whitehorse. He has some friends who go there and like it. After trying to deflect the request a few times, we finally told him tha

The other day our son asked us if he could go to Christ the King Elementary School in Whitehorse. He has some friends who go there and like it. After trying to deflect the request a few times, we finally told him that some people at the school would not approve of his having two moms.

“I can’t believe I have to have a dad to go to that school,” he exclaimed in frustration.

For the first time in his eight-year old life he was exposed to discrimination.

How sad that we can’t consider sending him to a public school that, in many other ways, has a lot to recommend it. Many teachers, I’ve heard from reliable sources, are very open-minded.

I can’t speak for the parents, but I imagine most of the kids are used to peers with same-sex parents, and don’t judge. But there’s not a chance we’d send our happy, well-adjusted kid to a school whose policy says that his parents are “intrinsically disordered and contrary to the natural law.”

So remind me why the public funds Catholic schools? I don’t see how it’s legitimate for a school receiving public funds to spread the idea that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-gender, queer or questioning is, to paraphrase Bishop Gordon, similar to having a disease like diabetes – a trial to be faced.

Teenagers are extremely vulnerable as they navigate the minefield of sexuality. When we (parents, schools, churches, peers) tell kids it’s fine to be gay, they can accept and move on. When we don’t, massive psychological problems can happen, and kids can, and do, take their own lives. In 2013 in the Yukon, no child should be told there is anything wrong with their sexual orientation or gender identity.

And remind me why the public is funding a school that can turn away students because of their religious beliefs? Even if we wanted our son to attend (in fact, one of our Catholic friends suggested we send him there to “shake things up”), he would likely be denied, because we would not be willing to promise he would respect and participate in the religious programming.

The Yukon Act that allows the Catholic bishop to approve curriculum and decide who can be hired and admitted to the school is outdated and unacceptable. I say, keep the schools but have them managed by the Department of Education. By all means promote religious literacy in those schools, as long as it incorporates and does not judge between many different religions.

If the schools remain in the stranglehold of Catholic orthodoxy, then they should not receive public funding, because they are in fact not open to the public, but only to people who promise to support the Catholic policies – policies which are contrary to Yukon government policies and to basic human rights.

Tanya Van Valkenburg

Whitehorse