A Canadian province isn’t backing down from its “gay-straight alliance” law that would allow students to name school clubs despite vocal opposition from religious leaders.
Catholic bishops promised to fight amendments in anti-bullying legislation that give students the power to choose their own club names, but that didn’t deter politicians behind the bill.
“We do everything we can in the confines of our homes to love and respect and accept our children,” Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said today, according to The Canadian Press. “We just want to make sure the same kind of atmosphere prevails in publicly funded school systems.”
The proposal sparked a firestorm when politicians said if students want to use the term “gay-straight alliance” for a Catholic school club that battled homophobia, they should be allowed to do so.
Ontario — Canada’s largest province — introduced the Accepting Schools Act last week to create a “safe and accepting climate” in all schools, Education Minister Laurel Broten said, according to CBC.
The amendments come after two bullied students committed suicide last year.
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Broten said the law aims to give students the power to stop bullying and create a welcoming atmosphere in schools.
She said student leaders told her they don’t want principals, parents or trustees making decisions they’re more than capable of making themselves.
“I don’t think there’s anything radical about allowing students to name a club,” Broten told CBC.
Cardinal Thomas Collins, Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario president, accused the minority Liberal government of attacking religious freedoms.
“We all are committed to obeying the law, but we can question whether the law is wise, whether the law is just or whether a law is a kind of intrusion or limiting of religious freedom,” Collins told The Globe and Mail.
The law is expected to pass before the Ontario legislature begins its summer break on June 7.
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