Some Calgary Catholic school teachers call for change after feeling pressure to out gay coworkers
A number of teachers in the Calgary Catholic School District say they feel forced to out gay coworkers and they are sharing their stories in the hopes that they will evoke change within the school system.
CTV Calgary spoke with two Catholic school teachers whose identity is being protected as they are afraid of losing their jobs.
“Even as a straight teacher, I’m scared to talk about my relationships,” said the first teacher.
She says she is also scared about what could happen to LGBTQ staff and her if she doesn't report them. “In public it says that you don't rat people out, within our school board we have been told.”
The district disputes the claim.
“That is absolutely not an approach we take as a district. Individuals are held responsible for their own actions and their own behaviours, we do not look for others to police that,” said Tania Van Brunt, Communications, Catholic School District.
Over the past week, CTV News has spoken with seven teachers currently within the Calgary Catholic District who all say the directive from the board is to out any teachers who are believed to be in breach of the district's 'catholicity clause'.
“I was never raised to believe catholicity was something to enforce, but something to share because of how great and amazing it is but ever since I’ve come here it's been shown as, this is not only a form of faith but it’s also a tool to enforce things,” said the second teacher.
The document outlines expectations and says staff can be disciplined up to and including termination if in breach of a 'catholicity obligation.' It also says that the district will consider the ‘gravity of the act’ or sin and the steps taken to reconcile, or confess.
“If it's going from being aspirational and, sort of, nice to have, to now you're actually cracking down on people who are gay, or who happen to have a child out of wedlock or who are having sex outside of marriage and we know this because they're in a common-law relationship, as opposed to actually being married, then I think that that would be bordering on discrimination,” said Sarah Coderre, Lawyer.
But it's something these teachers are willing to put up with for the sake of their LGBTQ students.
“I feel bad for them. I feel bad that they can’t live the life that they are living outside of school, that they have to lie about who they are and they have to lie about their family and the people that they love.”
The board says it is going to clarify its position with employees but at least one of these teachers thinks the solution is even bigger than that.
She thinks it's time to dissolve the entire taxpayer-funded Calgary Catholic District and she's not alone.
Alberta's Education Minister, David Eggin, released a statement to CTV News on the general issue of Catholic pledges saying…
"That's simply not acceptable in today's Alberta. Our government firmly believes that LGBTQ rights are human rights we will not condone discrimination against people on the basis of who they love. If there are teachers who are concerned about their contracts or feel they are being discriminated against at work they should address the matter with their employer, their association local, or the Alberta Human Rights Commission."