NDP calls on Kent to enforce same sex policy

The NDP's education critic is calling on Education Minister Scott Kent to ensure a new policy on homosexuality is put in place at Vanier Catholic Secondary School, even though the bishop is refusing to do so.

The NDP’s education critic is calling on Education Minister Scott Kent to ensure a new policy on homosexuality is put in place at Vanier Catholic Secondary School, even though the bishop is refusing to do so.

“We have failed parents and children at the school. I mean it’s our obligation to provide a safe, caring, welcoming and inclusive place and we haven’t done it. We as a territory have failed the kids,” said Jim Tredger.

On Wednesday, Bishop Gary Gordon told CBC Radio that even though the Education Department told him to remove the school’s controversial policy from the Vanier’s website, the school will still continue to teach the church’s views on homosexuality. The guidelines, which call homosexuality a “disorder” and gay relationships an “intrinsic moral evil,” will continue to be used as a religious document.

The bishop has said if this upsets some gay students, they are free to go to school elsewhere.

“That concerns me very much,” said Tredger. “My understanding is that the minister had taken responsibility and said that he would ensure the policy was changed and that the children were provided with a caring atmosphere. We accept the notion of religious freedom, but it is unacceptable to condemn or demean students based on their sexual orientation.

“One of the things that stood out in this for me was the strength of the young men and women who came forward and said ‘This is what’s happening.’ That was inspirational. As a system we can’t hang them out to dry. We need to ensure that there is a new and meaningful policy that supports the students and teachers,” he said.

Kent was unavailable for comment by press time, and the bishop did not return calls for comment.

Several former Vanier students have told the News that they are outraged that their beloved school has taken a more conservative approach to religion.

Ruth Nielson is one of them. She graduated from Vanier in 2007 and said her time there was a great experience.

“Overall, it was really good. I enjoyed it. I mean, high school is hard for all students, especially in Whitehorse, but all my teachers were always really supportive. As far as religion and certain people’s beliefs, they always seemed really understanding and tolerant of everyone,” Nielson said.

She said students were never pressured to fall in line with Catholic teachings on homosexuality or any other moral issue, and it was certainly never preached in class. Even one of Nielson’s teaching assistants had a same-sex life partner, and it didn’t appear to be a problem.

“I was surprised that they would formalize it like that. There was never anything official like that. It was a Catholic school, but we were never told that we had to be Catholic. Many students were there not because they identified as Catholic, but because their parents had put them there or that’s where their older siblings had gone.

“I’m grossly ashamed of the school’s policy on same-sex relationships. I am sad to think that youth may have lost the school as a place of refuge from the dismissal or negativity they may feel at home,” said Nielson.

Contact Jesse Winter at

jessew@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Yukon COs kill 3 bears attracted to ‘waste’ stored at Whitehorse junkyard

‘If it can smell like food (a bear is) on it, and it’s happening all over the place.’

YG bars Dawson City’s retired dentist from providing emergency services

Government can’t get its story straight over why Helmut Schoener can’t use hospital dental suite

Fox family in Whitehorse neighbourhood could face removal this fall

‘The foxes have been here a lot longer, and we’re the invader’

Kaska Dena Council in court over hunting licences

‘Consultation is not a “the more the merrier” proposition’

Great Northern Tournament returns for fourth medieval combat event

‘Every year it grows a little more and we get a little better at it’

Chilkat Challenge Triathlon holds second race

Dozens of racers paddled, biked and ran from Mosquito Lake to Chilkat State Park

YESAB report urges traffic lights at Alaska Highway intersection

Lower speed limits suggested ahead of new gas station construction

Yukon government denies it owes substitute teachers unpaid wages

The Department of Education filed responses July 5 to five lawsuits launched against it by substitute teachers

Some women won the marriage lottery in the Klondike

Others did not fare so well in love

The wonderful world of Airbnb Whitehorse

Wonderful for tourists and homeowners at least. Renters? Not so much

Yukon researcher contributes to climate change adaptation report

‘We really worked to weave consideration of different ways of knowing through the report’

Whitehorse singer Sarah MacDougall’s new record sounds like scenery

‘Just getting out of town slightly, you can see a lot of beauty’

Most Read