Report to the OCSTA Board of Directors re: Bill 13Kevin Kobus, Executive DirectorJune 4, 2012
Bill 13 will pass on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. The objectionable amendment regarding the requirement toallow the name “Gay Straight Alliance” will be part of the Bill. Because of the need to move on, asuggested strategy is being recommended.Attached as Appendix A is a memorandum submitted by the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Boardto OCSTA. It addresses a number of the issues pertaining to Bill 13.There are enough indicators to show that this government’s support for Catholic schools is questionable.The Minister, however, has been consistent in saying that the defunding of Catholic schools is not on thetable. Time will tell. In light of the passage of Bill 13 (expected on Tuesday, June 5
), it is important tohave a unified response to the key issues. Two of the fundamental issues are taken right from theDufferin-Peel document.
a. Will OCSTA initiate a legal challenge of Bill 13?
Suggested Strategy:It is not the intent of OCSTA to initiative a legal challenge.
b. What should a principal of a Catholic school do if a group of students wants to name thegroup “GSA”?
Suggested Response:Principals should be advised to allow students to call a group a “GSA” if such a request ismade. This does not, however, remove the right of a principal to ensure the appropriatenessof materials used in the school. The Respecting Difference Resource created for Catholicschools provides guidelines for ensuring that student-led groups to combat bullying reflect Catholic values and adhere to Ministry guidelines. I would point out that a group of studentsin a GSA may be a subset of a larger group such as a “Respecting Difference” or “Open Arms” group. As there are various names currently being used in Catholic schools, the deliberationwill occur at the local level.
Subject to the passage of the Bill on Tuesday and subject to the approval of the above strategies by theOCSTA Board of Directors, a memo will be sent to all Catholic boards on Tuesday.
Recommendation:That the strategies mentioned in this report be endorsed by the OCSTA Board of Directors.
There is a meeting scheduled for noon on Monday, June 4, involving the Minister of Education, theMinister’s Chief and the President and Executive Director of OCSTA. If that exchange has any bearing onthe recommended strategies, it will be reported to the Board of Directors at the meeting later in theday.