May 21st, 2013

05/21/2013

 
PictureThe Romeike Family

The German homeschooling family that fled to America in order to homeschool their children has
been denied asylum by the Obama administration

(Posted by Bryana Johnson on May 21, 2013)

The verdict on a massively significant case in the Sixth Court of Appeals has been returned. In a shocking development, the court has upheld the Obama Administration’s bid to deny asylum to the Romeike family, who fled to the US in 2008 after persecution in their native Germany for homeschooling their five children. The decision was announced Tuesday by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). The HSLDA has been representing the Romeike family throughout a seven-year struggle to educate their children in the way they think best.

Uwe Romeike and his wife Hannelore are music teachers and evangelical Christians who withdrew their children from German public schools in 2006, after becoming concerned that the educational material employed by the school was undermining the tenets of their Christian faith, and that the school was not providing their children with an ideal learning environment.

“As we were confronted with opposition to our choice we began to feel more and more that our faith required us to homeschool our children,” Uwe explained Wednesday.

Unfortunately for the Romeikes, homeschooling has been illegal in Germany since it was outlawed by Adolf Hitler in 1938. According to the German Supreme Court, the purpose of the homeschooling ban is to, “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.”

The family accrued the equivalent of around $10,000 in fines, and faced police visits to their home and the forcible removal of their children from the home. On one occasion, their children were dragged away and taken to school in police vans. Uwe explained in an interview with The Blaze that current German law does not require police to obtain a court order before removing children from parental custody.

In 2008 the Romeikes fled Germany to seek asylum in the land of the free and the home of the brave. In 2010, the HSLDA helped them to become the first family ever granted asylum in the US for the protection of their homeschooling rights. Federal immigration judge Lawrence Burnam, who initially granted the Romeikes political asylum, ruled that they had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs if they returned to their homeland. He called the German policy “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.” 

However, it seems the Obama administration doesn’t concur. In 2012, the Board of Immigration Appeals tossed Judge Burnam’s ruling, forcing the family to head back to court, where Attorney General Eric Holder sought to revoke their asylum and force them to return to Germany.

HSLDA’s Mike Farris explained, “The U.S. government contended that the Romeikes’ case failed to show that there was any discrimination based on religion because, among other reasons, the Romeikes did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool.”

In Farris’ opinion, this shows that, “the US government does not understand that religious freedom is an individual right. Just because all adherents of a particular religion do not abide by a certain standard does not mean that individuals who feel compelled to abide by this standard do not have the right to do so. Religious decisions must be made by individuals, not by groups.”

A crowd of the American people agree with Farris and have rallied around the Romeike family by signing a formal petition on the White House website. Part of the petitions reads,

“Every state in the United States of America recognizes the right to homeschool, and the U.S. has the world’s largest and most vibrant homeschool community. Regrettably, this family faces deportation in spite of the persecution they will suffer in Germany. The Romeikes hope for the same freedom our forefathers sought. Please grant the privilege of liberty to the Romeike family.”

The number of signers has exceeded the threshold necessary to earn a response from the White House, and the response is still being eagerly awaited. However, the verdict from the court has created a major setback for the Romeikes and makes their status in the US uncertain. The family may be faced with deportation.

Michael Donnelly, an attorney for the Romeikes, told ABC News the family remains hopeful.

"They feel very comfortable that, in the end, things are going to work out for them," he said. "There is a lot of support for this family in Congress, it is possible that Congress might take some action."

Farris expressed his indignation at the verdict, stating, "You can't look at the lenient attitude to 11 million people who came here for economic opportunity, why we would not treat people who come here for economic freedom on par with people who came here for religious freedom I don't understand.”

Farris said the family is planning to appeal the decision first to the entire Sixth Circuit Court and then to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

READ MORE:
Deportation of German homeschool family affects US homeschool freedom
Interview with the Romeike Family
 
 
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The Romeike family fled Germany for the right to homeschool their children. Now they face deportation from the US. What does this mean for US
homeschool freedom?

(Posted by Bryana Johnson on Feb 15, 2013)

In 1938, the practice of homeschooling was outlawed in Germany by Adolf Hitler and the infamous Third Reich. It was a rough period in German history, as thousands of young people were being pried from their parents’ direction and authority and drafted into the Hitler Youth program, where they were supposed to be trained as Aryan supermen (and women). In a few short years, vast numbers of these youth would be bleeding out on the battlefields of Europe, on the wrong side of the war for the soul of the world.  

Sadly for freedom and for many families, Germany has never lifted this archaic and totalitarian ban on homeschooling. On the contrary, the German government seems to have stepped up its opposition to home-educating parents over the past decade, forcing several families to flee, and others to enroll their children in state-approved schools against their will. The German Supreme Court has stated that the purpose of the homeschooling ban is to, “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.” It sounds like they aren’t really big on religious or philosophical diversity over there.

Some notable victims of this small-minded and grasping totalitarianism are Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their five children.  Uwe and his wife are music teachers and evangelical Christians who for years have been unsuccessfully seeking the right to homeschool their children. The Romeikes withdrew their children from German public schools in 2006, after becoming concerned that the educational material employed by the school was undermining the tenets of their Christian faith and that the school was not providing their children with an ideal learning environment. “I don’t expect the school to teach about the Bible,” Mr. Romeike said, but “part of education should be character-building.”

After accruing the equivalent of around $10,000 in fines, and facing police visits to their home and the forcible removal of their children from the home, the Romeikes fled Germany in 2008 to seek asylum in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Their case was taken up by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which helped the Romeikes in 2010 to become the first family ever granted asylum in the US for the protection of their homeschooling rights.

The HSLDA explains, “The U.S. law of asylum allows a refugee to stay in the United States permanently if he can show that he is being persecuted for one of several specific reasons. Among these are persecution for religious reasons and persecution of a ‘particular social group.’ ”

On January 26th, 2010, Memphis federal immigration judge, Lawrence Burman, granted the Romeikes political asylum, ruling they had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs if they returned to their homeland. Judge Burman also denounced the German policy heatedly. In a statement, he called it, “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”  

HSLDA’s Mike Donnelley called the ruling, “an extraordinary recognition of the fundamental importance of the right of parents to raise their children according to the dictates of individual conscience.”

We were so relieved!” Hanne said. “We had been trying hard not to get our hopes up too high. [The HSLDA attorneys] had assured us that even if we lost at this level, we would appeal and that an appeal could take years. So we knew that we wouldn’t have to go right back to Germany. But to win at this point was such an answer to prayer. Our children were jumping up and down and everyone in the room was hugging us and celebrating. Tears were flowing in gratitude for God’s protection for our family.”

The Romeikes were able to continue quietly homeschooling their children in a small Tennessee town. For a time.

Sadly, their period of respite was not to last. The Romeikes’ case is now before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, with the US government seeking to revoke their asylum and force them to return to Germany. And the details of Attorney-General Holder’s arguments in the brief for Romeike v. Holder are sinister, to say the least.

According to Holder, parents have no fundamental right to home-educate their children.

HSLDA Founder, Mike Farris, warns,

“[Holder’s office] argued that there was no violation of anyone’s protected rights in a law that entirely bans homeschooling. There would only be a problem if Germany banned homeschooling for some but permitted it for others.

Let’s assess the position of the United States government on the face of its argument: a nation violates no one’s rights if it bans homeschooling entirely. There are two major portions of constitutional rights of citizens—fundamental liberties and equal protection. The U.S. Attorney General has said this about homeschooling. There is no fundamental liberty to homeschool. So long as a government bans homeschooling broadly and equally, there is no violation of your rights.”

Farris goes on to reveal another argument presented by the Attorney-General,

The U.S. government contended that the Romeikes’ case failed to show that there was any discrimination based on religion because, among other reasons, the Romeikes did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool.”

The US Government, says Farris, “does not understand that religious freedom is an individual right.”


Just because all adherents of a particular religion do not abide by a certain standard does not mean that individuals who feel compelled to abide by this standard do not have the right to do so. Religious decisions must be made by individuals, not by groups.

Farris contends, “One need not be a part of any church or other religious group to be able to make a religious freedom claim. Specifically, one doesn’t have to follow the dictates of a church to claim religious freedom—one should be able to follow the dictates of God Himself.

The United States Supreme Court has made it very clear in the past that religious freedom is an individual right. Yet our current government does not seem to understand this. They only think of us as members of groups and factions. It is an extreme form of identity politics that directly threatens any understanding of individual liberty.”

While Romeike v. Holder is clearly crucially and immediately important to one huddled family yearning to breathe free, the implications of the arguments currently being presented by the US government against them are ultimately important to all American people. Will our courts uphold the rights of parents to raise their children in the ways that seem best to them, or will a government standard be imposed upon the 2 million homeschooling families of the US?

A look at historical precedents puts me in a big hurry to be on the side of liberty.

I give you Friedrich Hayek, from The Road To Serfdom:

There is scarcely a leaf out of Hitler’s book which somebody or other in England or America has not recommended us to take and use for our own purposes. This applies particularly to many people who are undoubtedly Hitler’s mortal enemies because of one special feature in his system. We should never forget that the anti-Semitism of Hitler has driven from his country, or turned into his enemies, many people who in every respect are confirmed totalitarians of the German type.”

For more information about the Romeikes, check out the following sources:

Land of Liberty: The Romeikes’ Journey (HSLDA, January 2010)
US grants home schooling German family political asylum (The Guardian, January 2010)
Judge Grants Asylum to German Home Schoolers (NYTimes, February 2010)
Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Homeschoolers (TIME Magazine, March 2010)
German families look to US for asylum (Global Post, April 2010)
The Romeike Family: Still Waiting on Asylum Appeal (HSLDA, October 2011)
German Homeschool Case May Impact U.S. Homeschool Freedom (HSLDA, February 2013)
 
 
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A woman waits to hear news of her sister, a teacher at Sandy Hook


Why the nightmare school shooting in Newton, CT means we need more guns

(Posted by Bryana Joy on December 15th, 2012)

In an incident that has stunned America, on Friday morning a young man whose mother was a teacher at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newton, walked into the school with four guns and brutally massacred nearly thirty people, including his mother, the principal, the school psychologist, and twenty young children. The suspect has been identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza. Officials have stated a dead body was found in the suspect’s home.

After working his will on the defenseless children and staff members of Sandy Hook, Lanza reportedly killed himself inside the school.  

There is not yet enough information available about this incident to enable us to form a complete mental picture of the horrific episode, but if it was like the other tragic school shootings that have occurred in our nation’s history, it was a nightmare of unbelievable carnage.

We must imagine the terror of hundreds of students as they learned that their school was going under lockdown and that a gunman was loose on the premises. We must imagine the horror of parents who received the automatic call to their phones, alerting them to the fact that there was a “possible gunman” on the campus where they had deposited their beloved children safely just hours before. We must imagine their acute sense of helplessness as they realized that their children were under lock and key with no defense against a madman. We must imagine the awful understanding that there was absolutely nothing they could do, that they did not even have the opportunity to give up their lives in defense of the children they loved.

Witnesses say they heard at least one hundred shots. We must imagine the acute terror felt by these twenty utterly vulnerable children as they took cover frantic cover and sat motionless, their hearts pounding in their chests, watching their friends lying in blood. We must imagine this because they did not live to tell us about it.

We must imagine the teachers and other adults in the building. We must imagine the way the understanding came to them suddenly that they could in no way defend either themselves or the children that surrounded them.

We must realize the significance of the report that the gunman who lies dead now at Sandy Hook died by his own hand. If this turns out to be true, it means that there was no savior for the students and teachers of Sandy Hook. That no one walked in on the gunman and put a welcome end to his rampage as he lowered his weapon for another shot. From what we are able to discern, there was no armed security guard who came in to cut off the violence. No burly math teacher who utilized his permit to concealed carry, no white knights. No, the shooter at Sandy Hook picked off his victims at his leisure. When he’d had enough, he put an end to the affair himself by turning his weapon on his own body.

But how different this could have been if, instead of discouraging guns on school property, we welcomed them heartily, accompanied, of course, by strict and proper licensing. How different if the report of the gunman on campus had stirred several teachers or staff members to whip out their own weapons and fire before the masked killer had his way with them. How different if after the first shots had been fired by this maniac, felling several of the beautiful youth of Newton, some armed staff member had rushed in and saved the lives of the twenty or so others whom we mourn today. How different if the principal had looked up from her desk into the eyes of her would-be killer and dealt the first – and last – blow herself.  How different for dozens of stricken parents and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and grandparents and best friends and husbands and wives.

The White House, which never misses an opportunity to push its particular agendas, jumped on the supposed “policy implications” of the incident, with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney saying there would be time later for a discussion of policy implications – but immediately declining to wait until later by adding the observation that Obama remains committed to trying to renew a ban on assault weapons.

This statement by Carney, however, sounds uninformed and opportunist in light of the fact that Connecticut already has some of the most stringent laws in the nation regarding assault weapons. Michael Hammond, a legislative consultant to the organization Gun Owners of America, has stated that Connecticut "basically banned semi-automatics.” But then, when has the legality of an action ever done much to deter killers and criminals?

Although it’s not at all clear yet how the gunman involved in the Connecticut killings obtained his weaponry, the history of school shootings in America shows that many of these tragic occurrences have involved weapons which were illegally obtained in the first place, including the infamous Columbine High School shooting in 1999.

Until this story unfolds more completely, the shape of the narrative remains to be seen.

 
 
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Why public education is intrinsically unjust

(Posted by Bryana Johnson on August 7, 2012)

In March of last year, Education Secretary Arne Duncan told Congress that an estimated 82 percent of America's schools would fail to meet education goals set by No Child Left Behind that year. “We should get out of the business of labeling schools as failures and create a new law that is fair and flexible, and focused on the schools and students most at risk,” Duncan said. This statement is tragically amusing against the backdrop of the failure of American public schools to measure up to national standards time and again.

On the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) Reading Test,
one out of three fourth grade students scored "below basic". More than 67 percent of all US fourth graders scored "below proficient," meaning they are not reading at grade level. That means that well over half of America’s fourth grade students are failing in the field of learning that is the most important.

Unfortunately, these figures don’t seem to right themselves by high school. The same test showed that around 26 percent of eighth graders and 27 percent of twelfth graders scored below the
"basic" level, and only 32 percent of eighth graders and 38 percent of twelfth graders are at or above grade level. In 2007, 69 percent of eighth grade students scored “below proficient” in writing

However, although these damning numbers are prompting a creeping national distrust of the public education system, the case against government education does not rest on the discouraging nature of our test scores, or even on the demonstrable failure of the system, but on principles as lovely and as old as our country’s founding.


In the 1786
Virginia Act For Establishing Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson wrote,

To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical.”

Jefferson was referring to a law in Virginia which required Protestants to pay taxes to support the clergymen of the Church of England. The act he was drafting would liberate the people of Virginia from this seemingly absurd obligation, and acknowledge their right to choose which religious teachers they wished to support. Elsewhere in the document, Jefferson asserts that,

“the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time.”


This same
“impious presumption” which Jefferson so hotly condemned is at work today in public schools which are not only deplorably deficient but also shockingly arrogant and assuming.

It is impossible to educate children without imparting values, opinions and beliefs to them in some way or another. A young child’s mind is largely devoid of context, so that a teacher has no choice but to provide the persuasions of his or her own mind to fill the gaps in the child’s mind. As every truly educated person knows, there are at least two sides to practically every assertion save those regarding numbers and mathematics and some evident scientific laws. It is beyond naïve to suppose that teachers, even should they desire to do so, can present all sides of an issue objectively and give them equal weight in the consciousness of every child entrusted to their instruction.


What does this lack of objectivity mean for us, the taxpayers, who fund our local schools whether we want to or not? It may mean that we’re being compelled to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which we disbelieve. If it doesn’t, it means someone else is. There’s no way around that in a diverse society which welcomes people of all creeds, cultures and nationalities.


In the eons before the current multicultural era, the trouble of taking and giving offense was a far lesser one. In days before technology had knitted the globe together into one vast mass of symbiotic organisms, societies shared more common values because people were forced by the geography of the planet to remain in more or less one general location. Government education systems, although still problematic and potentially dangerous, rarely created the issues they create today, because people accepted that the prevailing popular opinions of a nation would be reflected in the education system provided by the state.


In this present age, we can no longer be governed by this system of the past, because the circumstances of the world have changed. Ideas are no longer geographically-bound, but travel the circumference of globe in seconds. So divided is the nation that on many issues of national significance, it is no longer possible to determine what the prevailing popular opinion is. A system that worked, albeit imperfectly, 150 years ago, will no longer serve for this bitterly contending country.


It is time for America to embrace the education option of the future: private institutions that will allow families to choose the best fit for their children and that will not rob one ideological group in order to give to the other. The political correctness mania that pervades our government and our schools should come to an end, and the stifling “orthodoxy” of the establishment should no longer be forced on our children. Thomas Jefferson would be proud.



 

 
 
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Student video shows kids can't answer basic civics questions, educational establishment scrambles to insist clips do not reflect reality

(Posted by Bryana Joy on February 17th, 2012)


“A nation under a well regulated government should permit none to remain uninstructed.

It is monarchical and aristocratic government only that requires ignorance for its support.”

                                   -Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

“Do you know
[the name of the] Vice President of the United States?” asks Austin Oberbillig of several Olympia High School students in a youtube video which has garnered nearly a million views since it was uploaded at the beginning of the month.

Definitely not,” responds the first student.

George Bush?” suggests another, giggling nervously.

Umm, the bald guy,” answers a third girl. “Clinton! Clinton, right?

One student grasps at straws, throws out, “Bin Laden.”

In what war did the US gain its independence?” Austin goes on to ask.

Several female students stand before him, silent for a moment. “I don’t know!” says one irritably, after a brief interlude.

Umm, uhh – the – British – war?” a male student queries uncertainly.

The Civil War?”  another poses.

Shoot, I just did this and I don’t remember!” laughs a frustrated high school girl.

Over the course of the five-minute video, Austin proceeds to ask the students other basic questions about geography and civics, finding most of them to be incapable of providing the correct answers. Most are unable to name the two countries which border the United States. Most don’t know how many states are in the Union. Several can’t name any countries that start with the letter, “U.” One, in desperation, suggests “Europe.” Another, “Utopia.” One student says that Canada is a state.


Pundits on both sides of the political divide have been having fun with this ludicrous tape, and it has been played on both radio and television, causing it to go viral. News sources as varied as
The Blaze and the Huffington Post have held up the piece as an example of a failed education system. Glenn Beck talked extensively about the video on-air. Laura Hibbard expressed concern over the poor knowledge of history that the video highlighted, reminding readers of a 2010 study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress which showed that only 9 percent of fourth graders could correctly identify a photograph of Abraham Lincoln and state two reasons for his importance.

Sadly, since the video’s release, Austin and Evan Ricks, who produced the film together, have come under fire, and recently released a statement explaining that the political firestorm which occurred as a result of their work has surprised and dismayed them. They boys
were also interviewed by Kiro 7 South Sound, during which period the interviewer offered them several opportunities to assert that they did not intend to criticize the educational establishment, offering prompts like, “and certainly it was not a condemnation of the education system?”  The boys eagerly took the cue, saying that the video was not an attempt to show education in the Olympia school system or Washington as a whole.  The interviewer also stressed the importance of the “lessons” they’ve learned about social media and journalism since their piece went viral.

The Olympia School District has reacted defensively, with school district officials saying that the video doesn’t accurately reflect the strong academic performance of Olympia students.
“Olympia High School is one of the top five-percent performing high schools in the state,” said Ryan Betz with the Olympia School District.

Presumably Betz doesn’t realize that his statement only suggests the problem is worse than even the most outspoken opponents of public education are making it out to be. If students in one of the top five % performing high schools in Washington State are unable to name the US vice president, give the number of US states, or correctly identify the American war of independence, who wants to even imagine what educational standards are like in the other 95 % of Washington schools?


Other critics of the video are pointing to the fact that only the funniest clips were included in the final project, and that those students who answered the questions correctly were ignored. We should ask these willfully blinded viewers, many of whom were undoubtedly supporters of the No Child Left Behind act, if there is to be no thought given to the students who have been left behind? If there are even two or three (or, in this video, five) students in a high school who don’t know how many stars dot the US flag, if there are even three or four who can’t name the current Vice President, if there are
thirteen who don’t know the name of the war for American independence, is it truly fair to point to the students who can answer the questions and say, “Look, our education system is just fine”?

“The bottom line,”
said Austin and Evan in a statement, “is that we made the video to get a few laughs around our school, and it turned into something bigger.”

Laughter, however, is not an appropriate response to the tragedy that we see enacted in front of the camera in this increasingly controversial collection of clips. While students may be laughing, parents, educators and politicians should not be amused in the least. The fact that there is laughter, rather than outrage, is a terrifying indicator of a national attitude of apathy concerning educational standards, and shows a disregard for basic knowledge of significant historical and civic value.


The most stunning and tragic moment in the video probably occurs when Austin is fishing for a student who can name the American Revolution as the war in which the United States gained their independence. “
I was never taught that knowledge,” asserts a student politely, sitting at a table in the cafeteria.

But he must be mistaken, of course, because Olympia School District is one of the top 5 % performing high schools in Washington State. Obviously he is mistaken.
 
 
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Canadian National Post apologized for running this ad

A detailed look at the Toronto District School Board's K-12 curriculum, Challenging Homophobia and Heterosexism, 
including a link to the full program -- parents not allowed to opt kids out of these classes!

(Posted by Bryana Joy on October 06, 2011)

When the Toronto District School Board revealed their new “anti-homophobia curriculum” (Challenging Homophobia and Heterosexism: A K-12 Curriculum), many people were understandably disturbed. Naturally, things only got worse when the news came out in June that parents would not be able to opt their kids out of the program – not even their kindergarteners.  

According to the The Toronto District School Board's website:


The Toronto District School Board has approved an Equity Policy Statement which requires that ideals related to anti-homophobia and sexual orientation equity be reflected in all aspects of organizational structures, policies, guidelines, procedures, classroom practices, day-to-day operations, and communication practices

I highly recommend that you check out the curriculum resource guide, which is available online here.
In fact, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I hope you won’t leave this page until you have at least skimmed through this guide and read as much as you can stomach without becoming nauseated.


It includes statements and explanations like the following:

Can Schools/Teachers Choose Not To Address Controversial Issues For Fear Of Negative Parent Response?

No. Teachers are obligated to address all equity issues (issues regarding historically disadvantaged groups). Any omissions that maintain a non-inclusive curriculum and pedagogy are considered to foster a poisoned environment under Section 4.2 of the TDSB Human Rights Policy.

Should Schools Send Notes Or Permission Slips Home Before Starting Any Classroom Work About Curricular Issues That May Involve Discussions About Discrimination and Harassment?

No. The TDSB Equity Foundation Statement and Commitments to Equity Policy Implementation states that each school has a responsibly [sic] to education that reflects the diversity of its students and their life experiences. Singling out one group or topic area as too controversial, and depending upon parent/guardian/caregiver discretion, shifts this responsibility from the school to the parents/ guardians/caregivers and fosters a poisoned environment contrary to the TDSB Human Rights Policy.

Should Schools Send Notes Or Permission Slips Home Before Starting any Classroom Work On LGBTQ Issues?

No. If a school treats the topic of sexual orientation or anti-homophobia work differently from the range of other curriculum topics, this could be construed as discriminatory practice. Anti-homophobia education is mandated in all our schools through the Equity Foundation Statement and Commitments to Equity Policy Implementation, the Human Rights Policy, and the Gender-Based Violence Prevention Policy.

Can A Parent Have Their Child Accommodated Out Of Human Rights Education Based On Religious Grounds?

No. "Religious accommodation" in the TDSB is carried out in the larger context of the secular education system. While the TDSB works to create a school system free from religious discrimination, this freedom is not absolute. The TDSB will limit practices or conduct in its schools that may put public safety, health, or the human rights and freedoms of others at risk.

As well, the TDSB will limit practices or conducts in its schools that are in violation of its other policies. For example, if a parent asks for his or her child to be exempted for any discussions of LGBTQ family issues as a religious accommodation, this request cannot be made because it violates the Human Rights Policy. Furthermore, this is consistent with the ideal that human rights education is an essential strategy for preventing human rights abuses.

Can Teachers Seek Accommodation From Teaching Materials That May Contradict Their Religious Beliefs?

No. The TDSB is part of the secular public education system. Teachers are equally responsible for delivering curriculum created by the provincial Ministry of Education and to supporting the TDSB policies, which more accurately reflect the educational needs of our student population.

The delivery of curriculum related to human rights issues must be consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code, the TDSB Human Rights Policy, and the Equity Foundation Statement and Commitments to Equity Policy Implementation.

Failure to do so is contrary to the obligations outlined for teachers on page 4 of the TDSB Human Rights Policy. Teachers refusing to create an inclusive classroom that is safe and supportive for all students would create a poisoned learning environment.

Needless to say, the curriculum is loaded with propaganda and indoctrination. In 3rd grade, it is recommended that students read the book Gloria Goes To Gay Pride.  Students are encouraged to have their own “Pride Parade” in their school.

In one place teachers are told to:

Encourage girls and boys to role-play opposite roles, or to role-play animals or objects, or even parts of nature. Also, caution students to avoid portraying stereotypical images or behaviours in their tableaux. At times boys may play girls and rely on sexist stereotypical behaviour with which they are familiar.


The program tells students:

You can’t choose to be gay or straight but you can choose to ‘come out’.


Here's one story that the curriculum uses to introduce kids to “unfairness”:

Edith’s Situation
It’s December and Edith’s teacher has the students singing Christmas songs that are not religious, like O Christmas Tree, Deck the Halls, Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Almost everyone in the class likes the songs and knows the words. Edith is Jewish and does not celebrate Christmas. In fact, she celebrates Hanukkah but no one in the class even knows what that is.

• Why was Edith left out?

• How do you think it made Edith feel?

• How was Edith treated unfairly?

If you’re a parent, or hope to be a parent one day, how does it make you feel that this resource guide encourages teachers to trample on your rights to oversee your child’s education?  Do you feel left out when your child's curriculum warns teachers that your parental discretion fosters a "poisoned learning environment"?
Do you feel like you’re being treated unfairly when teachers are told not to inform you that your child is about to go through a controversial program? Do you think your child is being treated fairly?

If you’re a teacher, how does it make you feel that Toronto teachers aren’t allowed to choose not to teach this curriculum? If you are a Christian and opposed to the homosexual lifestyle, do you feel left out? Do you feel like you’re being treated unfairly?

The Institute for Canadian Values doesn’t feel that this is fair at all. They paid for an advertisement to be run by the Canadian National Post. The ad features a little girl’s face with the words:

I’m a girl. Please! Don’t confuse me. Don’t teach me to question if I’m a boy, transsexual, transgendered, intersexed, or two-spirited. 


At the bottom of the ad, there is information about the new curriculum.

This week the National Post pulled the ad and wrote an apology for running it. They announced that they were donating the proceeds from the ad to a homosexual rights group.

How does that make you feel?

It makes me feel like crying.


TAKE ACTION:
If you’d like to contact The National Post and express your concerns over their stance, you can find names, phones, mailing addresses, and e-mails here.

If you’d like to contact political officials, the Toronto District School Board, the Minister of Education, or other parties involved in this issue, here is relevant information:

Political campaign offices:

Dalton McGuinty
Phone: (800) 268-7250
Fax: (416) 323-9425
Email: info@ontarioliberal.ca

Tim Hudak
Phone: 416-861-0020
Toll-free: 1-800-903-6453
Fax: 416-861-9593
Email: comments@ontariopc.net

Andrea Horwarth
Phone: 416-591-8637
Toll free: 1-866-390-6637 (ONDP)
Fax: 416-599-4820
Email: douellette@on.ndp.ca

Hon. Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of Education
Mowat Block, 22nd Flr, 900 Bay St
Toronto, ON M7A 1L2
Tel: 1-800-387-5514 (TTY 1-800-263-2892)
Fax: 416-325-6348
Email: ldombrowsky.mpp@liberal.ola.org

Elizabeth Witmer, Education Critic
Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
Rm 422, Main Legislative Building
Toronto ON M7A 1A8
Tel: 416-325-1306
Fax: 416-325-1329
E-mail: Use this form (http://elizabethwitmermpp.ca/contact/)

Chris Spence, Director of Education
Toronto District School Board
5050 Yonge Street - 5th Floor
Toronto, Ontario M2N5N8
Email:  chris.spence@tdsb.on.ca

Chris Bolton
Chair of the TDSB Board
Ph: 416-397-3100
Email: chris@chrisbolton.ca

Click here to sign a petition asking officials to commit to permanently removing this curriculum.



 

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