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June 11, 2012

The Catholic Church's opposition to the bullying of homosexuals is written into the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Homosexuals "must be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided," the Catechism states (n. 2358).

Yet the manner in which this issue is being handled by the Ontario government is a cause for grave concern. Catholic schools want to take steps to end the bullying of any students, not just those who are homosexual.

The government, however, has singled out the bullying of homosexuals for special attention and will impose a one-size-fits-all solution. Any student in any school will have the right to establish a club called a gay-straight alliance to combat the bullying of homosexuals.

Catholic educators, as well as the Ontario bishops, are concerned that such "alliances" may become a forum for opposition to Catholic teaching on the immorality of non-marital sexual activity. As such, they would undermine the purpose of Catholic schools.

Students are bullied in schools for various reasons – academic achievement and body size being the most frequent ones – but ultimately because they are different. Earlier this year, the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association published a 12-page document, Respecting Differences, that sets forth 11 basic recommendations to reduce bullying. The document is a sincere attempt to deal with a serious problem that unfortunately affects many students.

The Ontario government has rejected the Catholic trustees' approach, preferring to zero in on bullying directed against students with a homosexual orientation. At this point, one has wonder about the government's motive – is it to end bullying or is it to undermine Catholic schools?

Public opinion in Ontario supports the legislation. However, when one scratches beneath the thin veneer of professed respect for homosexuals, one finds a massive outpouring of vitriolic, ignorant and hate-filled commentary about the Catholic Church. One need only read the reader comments section on any article on this issue on the Globe and Mail website to find the worst forms of anti-Catholic bigotry.

If the goal were to end bullying in schools, it would seem reasonable to adopt a broad brush approach such as that of the Catholic trustees. The goal, however, appears to be different. Less than a battle against bullying, the Ontario bill's real objective is to promote acceptance of a homosexual lifestyle and to undermine Catholic teaching on sexual morality.

Thus, we see government as the legislator of public morality, a role proponents of liberal democracy say it should never adopt. And, in regards to its approach to the Catholic Church, one must ask, "Who are the real bullies?"