Ontario: Anti-abortion speech is ‘bullying’

Politicians are trying to suppress political speech by calling it “bullying,” charges Hans Bader. He’s got a doozy of an example from Canada: Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten says Catholic schools can’t tell students abortion is wrong because anti-abortion speech is “misogyny,” which is banned by Bill 13, the anti-bullying law.

Religious schools are subject to censorship, Broten said.

“We do not allow and we’re very clear with the passage of Bill 13 that Catholic teachings cannot be taught in our schools that violates human rights and which brings a lack of acceptance to participation in schools,” she said. …

. . . “Bill 13 is about tackling misogyny, taking away a woman’s right to choose could arguably be one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take.”

U.S. protections for free speech are much stronger than in Canada, but some school administrators have tried to bully students who disapprove of homosexuality, Bader writes.

When a Wisconsin high school newspaper ran dueling student opinion pieces on whether same-sex couples should be able to adopt children, the student who took the “no” side was accused of bullying — which can lead to expulsion — by the superintendent.

However, a conservative Christian student successfully challenged a school “harassment” code that punished students who oppose homosexuality, Bader writes. In Saxe v. State College Area School District (2001), a federal appeals court ruled there is no “harassment” exception to the First Amendment for speech which offends members of minority groups.

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  1. Stacy in NJ says:

    I am brutally bullied on a daily basis. Under threat of violence, the local, state, and federal government confiscate in excess of 50% of my income.

    I should sue.

  2. North of 49th says:

    This isn’t really a big deal — it’s just one of many examples that Laurel Broten has the IQ of an artichoke. She is constantly getting facts, figures and policies wrong and this looks like yet another example.

    Catholic schools in Ontario are subject to some restrictions that U.S. parochial schools are not, because they are public — fully funded by tax dollars, as are the non-Catholic public schools. So they have to follow the curriculum, use approved assessments and texts, and so on; the instructional day is longer in order to allow for teaching of religion.

    The cited article was correct in stating that most aspects of Catholic teaching in the schools are protected by constitutional rights and also enshrined in regulation: Catholic schools are permitted to discriminate in hiring and can fire teachers or other employees for “un-Catholic” behavior like divorce.

    Regulations around freedom of speech differ somewhat between Canada and the U.S. In the USA, if I recall correctly, libel laws require proof of “malicious intent” for conviction; that is not an element in the Canadian law. Veracity of accusations is the determining factor. Hate speech, however, is restricted and challenges to those laws have failed to overturn them.

    So Catholic schools can teach that abortion, or homosexuality, or birth control are sins, but they cannot openly discriminate against students who question these doctrines. Catholic elementary schools can restrict enrolment to baptised Catholic children, but the high schools must accept students of any religion.

    Crazy system, I know. Goes back to pioneer days…