Half of Canada’s provinces provide public funding for religious schools, says a Teacher Magazine story, which focuses on a 12th grade philosophy class discussing gay marriage at an Ottawa Catholic school. About 20 percent of students are non-Catholic.
In (Thomas Aquinas) Conklin’s philosophy class, this mix had an impact on the discussion about marriage and family. “I can’t think of anything more important than bringing a life into the world,” said Conklin, who constantly moves his hands as he speaks. His 23 students sat at tables that formed a rectangle around their theatrical teacher. “The church wants to ensure that parents make this decision powerfully,” he told them.
“I don’t understand why two men or two women couldn’t make such a thoughtful decision,” said Allegra, a non-Catholic student dressed, like the other girls, in a white blouse and gray-and-blue skirt.
“Absolutely they could,” Conklin said, “but this gets back to the definition of ‘marriage.’ ”
All schools in the province must teach philosophy.
. . . the textbook covers the entire range of modern philosophies that challenge religious belief. But a free exchange of ideas apparently is more important than dogma in Ontario.
“Open-mindedness requires reviewing the evidence and continuing to question, but [that doesn’t mean] one doesn’t hold a view,” says John Peter Portelli, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. “Like the Catholic [schools], public schools aren’t neutral. The question is whether the ideological framework hinders open argument.”
About a third of Ontario’s students attended publicly funded Catholic schools.
The Brits also provide public funding for religious schools. Of course, neither Canada nor Britain provides for separation of church and state.