ASSEMBLY OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF ONTARIO ASSEMBLÉE DES ÉVÊQUES CATHOLIQUES DE L’ONTARIO

January 19, 2010 To: Kevin Kobus, Senior Policy Advisor, OCSTA Directors of Education, Ontario Catholic School Boards cc: Sr. Joan Cronin, Executive Director, Institute for Catholic Education Re: Ministry of Education Policy/Program Memorandum No. 145 “Progressive Discipline and Promoting Positive Student Behaviour” The purpose of this communication is to bring to your attention certain matters of concern related to provisions of the Ministry of Education’s Policy/Program Memorandum No.145. The bishops of the Education Commission of the ACBO have recently been apprised of policy directives related to PPM 145 that could have an impact on our Catholic schools and the care they provide to students of same-sex orientation. Of particular concern are three areas of the PPM. I would like to share with you some thoughts concerning each of these three areas. The first relates to supporting students in student-led activities promoting understanding and development of healthy relationships. Were it not for the fact that the PPM specifically names “gay-straight alliances” among these activities to be supported, the bishops would be in complete agreement with this principle. However, “gay-straight alliances” imply a self-identification with sexual orientation that is often premature among high school students. Because of this, the bishops feel that such an activity is not to be encouraged. Other types of dialogue groups that could achieve the same objectives should rather be encouraged. The second area of concern relates to outside “professional supports”, among which the PPM identifies “public health units, community agencies, [and] Help Phone lines”. The bishops feel it would be important for Catholic schools to identify and collaborate with those agencies that reflect or, at least, respect Catholic moral values. School boards would have to identify which such agencies exist in their area and make them known to their school principals and those employees who “work directly with students” and are expected to support them. The third area of concern relates to a specific obligation: to “ensure that all publicly funded schools provide access to public health units to deliver their mandated public health curriculum”. It would be important to specify that health units are to deliver their curriculum in accordance with Catholic moral principles and under the supervision of qualified Catholic school board personnel. In all these areas, our denominational rights as Catholic schools with a specific mandate must be respected. We trust that the Catholic Consortium and the Equity and Inclusion Policy Task Force will take into careful account the above-noted concerns and address them accordingly in their policy development undertakings. We would appreciate a response to these concerns and offer our collaboration on your collective efforts. With many thanks for the work you do, and with prayers for continued success in your projects, Yours in Christ,

Most Rev. Paul-Andre Durocher Chair, Education Commission
10 St. MARY STREET, SUITE 800, TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA, M4Y 1P9 •· TEL. (416) 923-1423 • FAX (416) 923-1509

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