by Rick Tone
A nasty anti-Catholic campaign is presently underway under the guise of justice and equality for homosexual students attending Vanier school.
The fact that Vanier, a Catholic school, has a moral objection to the practice of homosexuality, and a policy that supports and teaches their moral values and beliefs, is not evidence that Vanier teachers and administration, Bishop Gary Gordon or the Catholic Church are “anti-gay,” nor that their policy promotes “discrimination and hatred,” as Katherine Mackwood, president of the Yukon Teachers’ Association, asserts (News, March 13).
Most Catholics (and members of other denominations and faiths too) are caring and compassionate. They care for the spiritual and physical well-being of everyone as human beings, including homosexuals. In Gordon’s words, “Everybody is loved and we try to bring the great message of our Lord Jesus Christ to everybody” (News, Feb. 27).
Distinguishing between moral right and wrong is not discrimination in the negative sense of the word nor is it demeaning except to those who want to play politics. And let’s face it, the whole object of this hullabaloo is to force Vanier to abandon its Catholic/Christian values and teachings and accept homosexuality as an alternate lifestyle.
If it were otherwise, Liam Finnegan and any other lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer and questioning students would go to F.H. Collins or Porter Creek. As Valerie Royle, Yukon’s deputy minister of education noted, “Attending any of the Catholic schools in Whitehorse is a choice, and no student is forced into it” (News, Feb. 27).
That Vanier disagrees with homosexuality as a morally acceptable practice and lifestyle and refuses to allow a gay-straight alliance club in their school does not make them “haters” nor entitle any of you to call them “anti-gay” or “bullies” or homophobes” nor suggest that they incite any such behaviour. To do so makes you accusers scarcely any better than that one student who wrote a “label” on Shara Layne’s locker.
Instead of a locker, you just want to stick your labels on a few Vanier-Catholic foreheads, or perhaps tattoo their arms and make them wear yellow stars. Be careful that you do not become what you profess to hate.
As for the argument that Vanier is publicly funded, therefore must bow to “public values,” who gave you complainers the right to speak for all Yukon taxpayers? Many of those taxpayer dollars come from Catholics. Many non-Catholics may also agree with Vanier’s values and policy on this matter.
Perhaps we need a referendum to see how many taxpayers want their school tax dollars to go to Vanier, and if sufficient funds are committed, we can let the “publicly funded” argument rest, if indeed there was any merit to it in the first place. Perhaps it would be just as valid to question money being spent in our public schools to promote “alternate lifestyles,” because many taxpayers certainly do not agree with it. Perhaps public schools should just focus on reading, writing and arithmetic like they used to.
The suggestion by Katherine Mackwood that because of Vanier’s same-sex policy “it no longer seems the case that Catholic schools provide leadership in our community and direction and education for our children” (Star, March 5) is patently ridiculous.
Raising the sexual abuse of children within the church as an excuse to eliminate Vanier’s policy and teaching on homosexuality is likewise way out of line. There have been many instances of sexual abuse of students by teachers in the public school system, yet we have not stopped funding the public schools. Therefore, to paraphrase John Thompson’s editorial (News, March 1), “Should we really be depending on the leadership of the public schools for advice on healthy sexuality, given the shocking prevalence of the sexual abuse of children within the public schools, and the public schools/teachers unions preference to cover-up these crimes rather than confront them?”
I have compassion for any student being abused, ostracized, called names, or otherwise marginalized and devalued as a person because of “being different,” whatever that difference may be. I also sympathize with parents who feel the pain of their children. I can empathize because I also have had to deal with that pain.
That said, can you who are railing against Vanier and its same-sex policy not cease hostilities and appreciate it for its particular values, culture and contribution to our community and society? Can you who espouse tolerance and acceptance not be tolerant and accepting of the Catholic faith and the values they teach? They are not bad people nor bad policies and do not merit your harsh judgement nor censure.
Quite the opposite. Even though all the contributors to date on this issue may have meant well, I think some apologies are in order.
Rick Tone is a Whitehorse resident.