Canadian law professor calls for legal changes to bring about ‘queering’ of Catholic schools

Catholic World NewsJan. 15, 2013

In “Queering Schools, GSAs and the Law: Taking on God”--an excerpt from the book The Gay Agenda: Claiming Space, Identity & Justice--a law professor at the University of Manitoba calls for changes in “state-issued law and policy approaches” to ensure that Canadian schools, including Catholic schools, become “queered.”

“The most effective approach would call for laws, policies and programs that mandate curriculum and educative responses to transform the schooling experience of all students,” writes Donn Short, who discusses “the reach of the law and the ability of the law to take on what sits as the major social norm and major obstacle to transforming schools and which constitutes the present and future challenge confronting the work that needs to be done in the queering of Canadian schools--the inevitable confrontation with religion.”

“There has been, for too long, particularly in public discourse and among religionists, a mistaken belief in the sacrosanct or exclusive management rights of Roman Catholic school boards to ‘run their own show,’” Short adds. “This attitude has led, I assert, to the absurd view that religious dogma in some way justifies ignoring or indeed allowing to continue the harassment of queer students within the Roman Catholic school system.”

Short concludes:

The curriculum must change to include queer content and to recognize queer families, but the curriculum will not change unless the Ministries of Education direct it to change and if queer youth are reconstructed legally as full citizens within the school. That response lies a wall-to-wall transformational approach that also considers the playing fields, the stages, the artwork on display in hallways, media classes, sports, music, visual arts, friendships, libraries, music rooms, loyalties, clubs, the machine shops, the gyms and the classrooms in pursuit of a time when sexual minority youth may participate and thrive with their interests vested and valorized on and off school property for the time that schools are such a crucial part of their lives.