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An Ontario Father Is Taking His Children’s School Board to Court

10 Sep 2012
An Ontario Father Is Taking His Children’s School Board to Court

The Canadian Press

TORONTO — An Ontario father is taking his children’s school board to court in a bid for advance notice on lesson plans that might contradict his Christian beliefs.

Steve Tourloukis is asking Ontario’s Superior Court to force the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board for a heads-up when topics such as marriage, family and sexuality will be discussed in his kids’ classes.

It’s discriminatory to deny him the religious accommodation when it is provided to people of other faiths, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Tourloukis said Monday at a news conference.

He dismissed the idea of educating his children — a son in Grade 4 and a daughter in Grade 1 — in the separate school system.

“Why should I send my children to another school?” he said. “I pay my taxes…I don’t see why somebody else’s discrimination should cause me, should influence where I send my children. Not in a free country. Not in Canada.”

Tourloukis noted that he teaches his children that everyone is made in the image of God and to love people who are different from them, but said this isn’t about his religious beliefs.

“This is about a parent’s right to know what is being taught in schools,” he said.

“My children are my own. I own them. They don’t belong to the school board.”

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board said a spokesperson would be available later Monday to comment.

Education Minister Laurel Broten said she believes in the province’s “evidence-based curriculum” and it must be taught across Ontario.

“We are confident and stand by our curriculum and all boards across the province have religious accommodation protocols that they put in place at a local level,” she said.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said decisions about accommodations are up to the local school boards.

“That’s why we have independently elected trustees,” she said. “It remains their purview to make those decisions and to determine what the board can handle as far as accommodating the needs of parents and the kids.”

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