With a vote of 65-36, the Ontario legislature passed Bill 13 yesterday, an anti-bullying measure that mandates teacher training, reporting systems, and the guarantee that students can form diversity groups like gay-straight alliances in schools throughout the province. The Catholic Church has strongly opposed the measure because Catholic schools, which are taxpayer-funded, will also have to abide by the new policy. The Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario responded to the bill’s passage tersely, expressing “serious concerns” about its language but conceding schools will comply:
Recognizing that the Accepting Schools Act is now the law, Catholic partners will seek, as we have always done, in a way that is in accord with our faith, to foster safe and welcoming school communities.
In spite of this, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association welcomed the bill’s passage, suggesting students will have “positive experiences” in their clubs.
The impetus for Bill 13 was the suicide of Jamie Hubley, who was bullied for being gay.