Vanier’s teachings must meet Yukon law: Kent

Territorial law trumps religious teachings at all Yukon Schools, including Vanier Catholic Secondary. That's the word from Education Minister Scott Kent today. Kent issued an open letter to Bishop Gary Gordon.

Territorial law trumps religious teachings at all Yukon Schools, including Vanier Catholic Secondary.

That’s the word from Education Minister Scott Kent today. Kent issued an open letter to Bishop Gary Gordon addressing concerns with the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings on homosexuality. Those teachings run afoul of the Education Department’s sexual orientation and gender identity policy.

The Church’s teachings may also contravene the Canadian Human Rights Act and Charter of Rights and Freedoms, according to letter.

Today Kent said, in no uncertain terms, that because Vanier is a publicly funded school, the bishop must get in line with territorial policy.

RELATED:  Read Scott Kent’s letter to Bishop Gary Gordon.

“Those parts of the Episcopal Corporation’s policy that are inconsistent with and do not meet the requirements of existing laws and policies cannot have application in any publicly supported schools in the Yukon, and that also of course includes religious instructional material and curriculum in the Catholic separate schools,” Kent said in an interview.

Controversy arose earlier this month over a document written by the bishop that outlines the church’s stance on homosexuality, as well as specifics about how Vanier teachers should handle the subject.

It calls homosexual urges a “disorder” and labels homosexual acts an “intrinsic moral evil.” In an interview with the News earlier this month, Gordon said that Vanier teachers are also discouraged from using words like “gay,” and “lesbian,” and that a Gay-Straight Alliance isn’t allowed at the school.

The document was freely available on Vanier’s website until Kent ordered it taken down.

Gordon, however, told CBC that even though the document was no longer on Vanier’s website, it would continue to guide religious teachings at the school.

That’s not good enough, Kent said, adding that government lawyers also warned the teachings may violate Canadian law.

“There is some concern over the teachings with regard to homosexuality. That is the one concern that legal counsel in government has identified may be in contradiction to the Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Kent said.

Kent did defend the Catholic Church’s right to a publicly funded separate school system, and its right to teach Catholic religion and morality. It just has to meet the same requirements as all other Yukon public schools.

“I’m certainly not making it my business to tell people what they should believe. It’s about what happens in our public institutions, and ensuring that every student, no matter what school they go to, feels safe and welcome and protected and respected,” Kent said.

Kent said he has directed his deputy minister, Valerie Royle, and other department staff to work with the bishop and the Vanier school community to develop a policy that complies with the territory’s laws and policies.

He couldn’t say whether the school will need to allow a Gay-Straight Alliance, saying only that those details will be worked out in consultation with the school community.

Neither Gordon nor Vanier principal Ed Frison returned calls for comment by press time.

Contact Jesse Winter at

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target

Air North president Joe Sparling said the relaxing of self-isolation rules will be good for the business, but he still expects a slow summer. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News)
Air North president expects a slow summer

Air North president Joe Sparling suspects it will be a long time before things return to pre-pandemic times


Wyatt’s World for May 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Copies of the revised 2021-22 budget documents tabled in the legislature on May 14. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Liberals introduce new budget with universal dental and safe supply funding

The new items were added to secure the support of the NDP.

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Neil Hartling, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon president, left, said the new self-isolation guidelines for the Yukon are a ‘ray of hope’ for tourism operators. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon tourism operators prepared for ‘very poor summer’ even with relaxed border rules

Toursim industry responds to new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated individuals to skip mandatory self-isolation.

Most Read