New Ontario anti-bulling law generates Catholic opposition over required “gay-straight alliances” in schools

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that [June 5, 2012] Ontario’s Legislative Assembly passed by a vote of 65-36 the third and final reading of Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act (full text). The bill will become law later this month when it receives Royal Assent. The law, which is designed to prevent and punish bullying in government funded Catholic schools as well as public schools, has generated opposition from from the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario because of its requirement that all schools support “activities or organizations that promote the awareness and understanding of, and respect for, people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, including organizations with the name gay-straight alliance….”  As reported by an earlier Globe and Mail article, Catholic schools want to be able to use a different name for student clubs that encourage respect for all students, objecting to the use of the word “gay” or “rainbow” in the names of the groups. The controversy is apparently part of the larger debate over government funding of Catholic schools in Ontario.