Editorial: Accommodation at Catholic schools

It seems logical for students at Catholic schools to take religion courses.

After all, such classes help distinguish Catholic schools from their public school counterparts.
But at a time of increasing scrutiny on the issue of public funding for Catholic education, should Catholic schools be more pragmatic?

At issue are the legal battles a few Ontario parents are waging to exempt their children from religious programs at Catholic schools.

The parents, some of whom aren’t Catholic but who nevertheless want to send their children to Catholic schools for the convenience or the quality of the education there, argue they have the right to exempt their children under provisions of the Education Act that opened up Catholic schools to people of other faiths in exchange for full public funding.

But according to the Toronto Star, many Catholic schools have resisted such requests. Rather than full exemptions, schools have granted partial accommodation or denied the requests. As a result, at least one parent is considering court action to enforce the act.

It’s understandable that Catholic schools would want to protect their faith-based character. And, of course, it seems reasonable to expect students who attend Catholic schools to accept what that faith-based character entails.

Schools have long made students take courses they don’t want to take, so why should religion be any different?

Of course, religion is different because it goes to the core of
people’s personal beliefs. And while Catholic schools have every right to uphold their religious character, the public funding they receive means they should have to accept students of other faiths and the realities that come with that.

Moreover, if the law indicates that’s how things should be, they need to follow those rules without leaving parents in the position of having to go to court in order to enforce their rights.

The issue of exemptions is separate and apart from the question of public funding for Catholic schools, something a few people have of late been arguing to eliminate.

While Ontario may have that debate in earnest some day, it’s clear Catholic schools should accommodate the few people who want exemptions from religious programming in the meantime. It’s not a big imposition.
— Glenn Kauth

Free newsletter

Our newsletter is FREE and keeps you up to date on all the developments in the Ontario legal community. Please enter your email address below to subscribe.

Recent articles & video

Upcoming FACL conference focused on AI’s impact on profession, advancing careers of Asian lawyers

Legal Innovation Zone launches program to help legal tech entrepreneurs turn ideas into businesses

Law Foundation of Ontario forms strategic partnership with Indigenous Peoples Resilience Fund

Ontario Superior Court upholds the College of Physiotherapists’s authority over billing inaccuracies

Housing supply needs more public-private collaboration, less red tape, say lawyers

Judicial vacancies holding up construction litigation: litigators

Most Read Articles

Ontario Court of Appeal upholds dismissal of statute-barred personal injury claim

Judicial vacancies holding up construction litigation: litigators

Ontario Court of Appeal resolves access rights between parents and maternal grandparents

With new federal funding Pro Bono Ontario expanding program for Ukrainian nationals across Canada