Catholic School Boards Refuse Gay Bullying Study
A nation-wide study on homophobia and bullying in high schools was launched on Friday as a collaborative effort between the University of Winnipeg and Egale Canada. The ambitious study hopes to gauge the social climate in Canadian high schools by surveying 10,000 students before the end of June.
Not all students will have the opportunity to participate, however. Three Catholic school boards in Ontario and Alberta have refused to co-operate with researchers and barred the survey. Helen Kennedy, Egale’s executive director, expressed surprise at the Catholic boards’ decisions:
The study is not about sexual behaviour; it is about social behaviour. It’s about bullying, harassment and taunting in our schools.
A worthwhile effort, and it’s unfortunate that not everyone is sensitive to the cause. Even more strange, though, is the rationale for the research ban. Reverend Dennis Noon of the Wellington Catholic District School Board, who refused his students’ participation in the study, told the media that homophobia was simply “not a big issue” in Catholic schools.
Gee, where have I heard that before?
Having gone through the Catholic school system, I don’t buy it. I’m not alone, either; Ontario’s Minister of Education, Kathleen Wynee, expressed disappointment at the school boards’ dismissal of the research, saying she hopes for more open conversations with the boards.
As for Reverend Noon and the other board representatives, if they don’t think that homophobia is a problem, then why not allow the researchers to conduct their survey? Given the harm caused by bullying, I think the Catholic school boards ought to face the issue for a change and acknowledge when gay students are being harmed in their schools.
- Catholic schools reject participation in homophobia survey [CBC News]
- Survey of homophobia in schools underway [Canada.com]