Things are really beginning to heat up here in the province. The Hamilton School Board has been served with a law suit from a family that used our document to communicate their faith and were told they do not have the right to know when curriculum conflicts with their values. This is most unusual for Hamilton Board has accepted hundreds of these forms for more than 4 years, and has adopted a religious accommodation policy that includes accommodating for sensitive curriculum issues.
Hamilton dad takes public board to court over equity policy
Sep 11, 2012 Carmela Fragomeni Hamilton dad Steve Tourloukis is taking the Hamilton public school board to court to push for advance notice of curriculum or activities dealing with gay and lesbian rights and discussions.
See Full Article at http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/796878–hamilton-dad-takes-public-board-to-court-over-equity-policy
Letter to the Editor – sent to all papers.
Responding to: Hamilton dad takes public board to court over equity policy
Mr. Tourloukis, an adherent of the Greek Orthodox faith, is asking the school board for “advanced notice” when planned curriculum (lessons, assemblies, and scheduled activities) deal with content that may be sensitive to the teachings of his faith. As a result of being informed, the father would then able to help his children to understand how the information, which may not be consistent with the teachings of the home, apply to his children.
This is very similar to a parent who may be concerned their child may have difficulty with an academic skill and requests to be informed when that topic is covered so that the parent may help the child at home. Mr. Tourloukis understands that some aspects of social education concepts, that may be in conflict with his faith, may lead to some confusion for the child, and that parent wants to be involved.
The response from the Hamilton school board to Mr. Toruloukis’s request was he does not have the right to know when about such sensitive curriculum. With this statement, the school boards is saying to the family, “The reason parents have children is to provide raw materials for the government-based systems to mould and shape into a politically correct product, based upon the embraced norms and values that the public institution deems appropriate, and convenient, at the time.”
One has to ask the important question, “Why do couples have children in the first place?”
For many, it is an expression of love, and the desire of a couple to continue their heritage; to do the best that they can to raise a family, including children, within the sincerely-held beliefs of their faith (or whatever their value system), to continue the family heritage and tradition.
Old fashioned? Perhaps! But do people they have the right to think this way?
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.
If Canadians have these rights, then public institutions must respect the rights of all people. And for the most part they do. School teachers understand the needs and limitations of Muslim children who are fasting during the day as part of Ramadan, and do not expect the same level of performance in gym class.
Many school boards respect the needs of faith families who must pray at certain times of the day and provide prayer rooms for these students.
Schools are being told by the government they must implement clubs for gay and bisexual students.
Respect for different faiths and values is also extended to people in the workplace. Employers allow employees of other faiths to take holidays that may not be recognized on our Christian calendars. Employees who believe in free sexual expression through alternative sexual partnerships, are supported by legislation that provides them with same-as-married benefits when they are living with their sexual partner.
Parents who are part of traditional faith groups, have the right to hold their sincerely held beliefs, and to raise their children in these beliefs.
The development of a human is a complex, integrated activity. All people are made up of three components ‘Body, mind and spirit.” These components are inextricably linked together. When we read certain novels (an intellectual/mind activity) with a moral theme, this intellectual activity often provides input to the spiritual side. When we listen to music of a particular genre, our spiritual ideas can be affected.
Mr. Tourloukis is a wise father, tolerant of others. He is not asking that his values be adopted by the school. He merely used a common communication tool (PEACE Forms) that many families in the Hamilton area have used, to request to be informed when information, which is sensitive to his truly held beliefs, is introduced in school. He has not asked for significant accommodations from teachers that would involve extra work. He is a parent willing to accept the responsibility of raising his children within the constitutionally protected values of his faith. These children are very fortunate to have a father, and one that is this interested in them.
As a teacher with 29 years experience, I have had children in my class being raised from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and faiths (vegetarians, Mormons, Muslims, Atheists, Satanists and Christians). Accommodating for the needs of each is often not difficult. It can be as simple as allowing those who hold different opinions to share their opinion in a way that is respectful, and the teacher models acceptance and respect of the information.
The alternate approach, as presented by the school board as inclusive, “Do not talk about your faith in our public space.” Parents have told me about their children in grade 2 who, at Christmas time shared with friends that to them Christmas is also about the birth of Christ, and they were taken to the office and told, “we don’t allow talk about religion at school.”
The Minister of Education has stated, “We are creating a welcoming environment for all students.” Does such a response lead to a welcoming environment for children of faith?
The reality is we live in a multi-faith, multi-cultural, multi-worldview society. Schools must work with all stakeholders to develop strategies to become more pluralistic – respecting the constitutionally protected rights of all people by developing policies that address the needs of all, without favouring one particular set of values.
There are many ways this can be achieved in an education system. All that is needed, is for the system to desire to discuss this with the relevant stakeholders.
I would be open to freely participating.
President, PEACE Hamilton
PO Box 306, Binbrook, On
Help Support this Case!
What Can You DO????? STEVE is sticking up for your values, let’s join the battle!
Traditional Faith Parents – Share your faith with your school – and ask to be informed ahead of any sensitive instruction.
Use the Parent Communication form attached and communicate your faith with your school board. The document is a form that:
Shares your traditional, time honoured, principles
Outlines examples of curriculum situations that would be considered sensitive
Asks the school to inform parents when curriculum identifies as sensitive is part of planned instruction
If we demonstrate the numbers of families concerned about this issue, we band together in large numbers.
In 2008, The Minister or Education said we have this right:
“Should the component of any course conflict with a religious belief of the parent (of minor-age children), or a student aged 18 or older, the right to withdraw from that component of the course shall be granted, on the written request of the parent …” – Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Education, Ontario
Making this request is not any different than a parent who believes their child will have difficulty with Algebra, and wants to be informed when this is being covered in math so they may assist the child. You are concerned that your child may misunderstand the sensitive social information that is part of a planned lesson, and would like to be informed so that you may help your child to understand the information and how it applies to them. In addition, if the parent assess that the information is too intense for the child, they would like to work with the school to develop a relevant, and realistic accommodation.
Traditional minded families are part of the public education system and are asking to be included. Public institutions are required to respect the constitutional rights – including religious differences – of everyone.
The alternative – Do Nothing! Enabling school boards and government to ignore our constitutionally protected Fundamental Freedoms (freedom of conscience and religion, thought, belief, opinion and expression) and let our children be brainwashed by Ontario’s state religion.
Also Consider financially supporting this Legal Case. This is a very important case. It will determine whether or not people of faith have the right to request to be informed about planned curriculum that is sensitive to their values. If possible, help to support this case with a financial contribution to: