Toronto Catholic board trustee gets award for denigrating gender expression and identity
If ever there was a reason to eliminate the anachronism of Catholic schools in Ontario, Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) trustee Mike del Grande has done his best to make a case. Like TCDSB trustees Thersea Lubinski, Gary Tanuan and Nancy Crawford, he is against including the terms “gender identity” “gender expression” in its Code of Conduct. Toronto’s Catholic school board had been attempting for about a year to update the code to comply with that of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). It also included “family status” and “marital status” as circumstances worthy of respect.
Back in November the Board voted 8 to 4 in support of its changes to the Code of Conduct. The relevant section of the amended Code reads:
Standards of Behaviour
Respect, Civility, and Responsible Citizenship
The following requirements do not adversely affect any right or privilege guaranteed under the Constitution Act 1867: the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or the Ontario Human Rights Code.
All members of the school community must:
- respect and comply with all applicable federal, provincial, and municipal laws;
- demonstrate honesty and integrity;
- respect differences in people, their ideas, and their opinions;
- treat one another with dignity and respect at all times, and especially when there is disagreement;
- respect and treat others fairly, regardless of, for example, race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability;
- respect the rights of others;
- show proper care and regard for school property and the property of others;
- take appropriate measures to help those in need;
- seek assistance from a member of the school staff, if necessary, to resolve conflict peacefully;
- respect all members of the school community, especially persons in positions of authority;
- respect the need of others to work in an environment that is conducive to learning and teaching; including by ensuring that personal mobile devices are only used during instructional time for the educational and other permitted purposes outlined on page 1 of Policy/Program Memorandum No. 128 dated August 29, 2019
- not swear at a teacher or at another person in a position of authority
All pretty tame stuff, but Mr. Del Grande was having none of it. He “wasn’t serious about it” as he told CBC news, but during the November meeting, moved an amendment to include bestiality, pedophilia, cannibalism, auto-erotic asphyxiation and something called “auto-vampirism” to the list of those characteristics that ought to be considered worthy of respect and fair treatment in the Code of Conduct. He was just trying to make a point “… where else does it end? Where else does it stop?” he said, somehow placing acceptance of different families and gender conceptions in the same box as reprehensible and illegal activities. Mr. Del Grande withdrew the amendment after being informed by TCDSB director Rory McGuckin that many of his suggestions were criminal in nature.
It’s not as though, TCDSB’s revised Code of Conduct is asking for much – just basic respect for students and employees from the multitude of backgrounds, races, creeds, families and yes – gender identity and gender expression, for whom the board receives public money to pay and educate. The revised Code of Conduct doesn’t require students or employees of the Board to hold hands over hearts as they pledge allegiance to that section of the code; it just sets out the added expectation that they will respect people of different gender identity, gender expression, family or marital status. Practically speaking it means that students and employees of the Toronto Catholic board must not humiliate, attack, segregate, harass, bully, deny privileges etc – to people in these circumstances.
School Magazine contacted Trustee Del Grande for further comment. He declined, but defended his views in the self-described “#1 pro-life” journal LIFESITE “A Catholic school cannot be Catholic if it is not faithful. Simply saying Jesus loves everyone does not mean Jesus condones sin. He loved and forgave the adulteress at the well, but he also told her to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11).”
Adding: “Terms like nominal catholic, non-practicing catholic, dissenting catholic are those on the “inside.” And non-believers and anti-catholics have united with those post-Christians to accommodate, change, and simply ignore our deposit of truths as explained by dogma, doctrine, and discipline.
The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church must speak with one voice and reject that which is not keeping with the Creed that the faithful recite at Mass.”
He didn’t explain how changes to the TCDSB Code of Behavior ignores or even undermines Catholic doctrine other than to say he took a stand against “… gender ideology which is incompatible with the Christian anthropology of the human person.”
Perhaps Mr. Del Grande thinks that there are a lot of sinners and plenty of evil amongst us from whom Catholic believers must be protected. He closed his remarks with a comment provided by one Fr. Dwight Longenecker: “First we overlook evil. Then we permit evil. Then we legalize evil. Then we promote evil. Then we celebrate evil. Then we persecute those who still call it evil.”
For this defense of the primacy of Catholic Church doctrine as he interprets it, Mr. Del Grande received an award from the Campaign Life Coalition, an organization opposed to gay marriage, abortion and the current sex education curriculum in Ontario. Campaign Life rates politicians across the country according to their adherence to what it deems to be proper Catholic living. It gives them a red, green or yellow light depending on how close each one comes to meeting its criteria for Catholic morality. Campaign Life presented Mr. Del Grande with the Joseph P Borowski award “for outstanding bravery in defending children’s emotional, psychological, spiritual, and medical well-being.”
He received this award for arguing that some people don’t warrant the same respect as others if they have a different gender identity or expression; for arguing that doing so places us on a slippery slope leading beyond the celebration of evil to the persecution of those who call it out.
Trustee Del Grande’s defense of his position is dreadful – putting tolerance and respect on a line with evil. How can this ever be compatible with the most basic goals of education? Why make such an issue over such vulnerable people? Why would Campaign Life reward and celebrate such vicious denigration.
School Magazine believes in enriching the democracy of public schools not the dominance of religious fiefdoms. The conflict between publicly funded education and Catholic doctrine has a long and troubled history in Canada; religion and morality are hugely complex. But in the end if people like Trustees Tanuan, Lubinski, Crawford and Del Grande want to dictate who has basic rights and who doesn’t; if groups like Campaign Life want to monitor politicians for adherence to preferred Catholic doctrines, then they should be honest enough to demand that Catholic schools in Ontario become private schools, refusing taxpayers’ money as they try preserve the sanctity of their dogma.
Of course, they’ll still need to follow the Ontario Human Rights Code.