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Hamilton father goes to court to defend parental rights in education

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By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News
OTTAWA

Caption: Dr. Steve Tourloukis with his lawyer, Albertos Polizogopoulos, who specializes in religious freedom litigation. Tourloukis is taking the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board to court  to protect his children from indoctrination. Photo by Deborah Gyapong / CCN.

A Hamilton, Ontario father hopes Catholic ratepayers will support his court-battle to protect his children from indoctrination in the public schools.

Dr. Steve Tourloukis, a dentist, is taking the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board to court, seeking a declarative ruling that recognizes his right to be informed when a classroom will be teaching curriculum contrary to his Christian faith; the right to have his children exempted from such teaching; and an acknowledgement from the court of parents’ prior rights to educate their children.

Ahead of court appearances Nov. 21 and 22, in Hamilton, Tourloukis spoke in two Catholic venues in Ottawa Nov. 17, warning the same provincial Equity and Inclusiveness strategy is being foisted on Catholic Schools.

A Greek Orthodox believer, Tourloukis said he is “heartbroken” about what has happened in the Catholic school system, pointing to the province’s forcing them to accept Gay-Straight Alliances GSAs.

Taking his children, aged six and eight, out of the public system into the Catholic schools would not protect them from the kind of indoctrination going on in both the public and separate systems in Ontario.

“The Catholic schools are like the Vancouver safe injection site,” he said. “The drugs are the same but the needles are cleaner.”

“As a parent, I want to choose what’s best for my kids, not what causes them the least harm.”

His lawyer, Ottawa-based Albertos Polizogopoulos, who specializes in religious freedom litigation, said the court battle will mostly be on paper, but could cost $50,000. If the case is appealed on up to the Supreme Court of Canada, the costs could rise to $500,000 and there is always the risk Tourloukis will have to pay about 60 per cent of the other side’s legal expenses plus his own if he loses.

The Hamilton father said he is only asking for religious accommodation like that already accorded Muslims. For example, Muslim students can be exempted from any school discussion of Christmas, Easter or Halloween; their requests for special prayer time are accommodated as are requests to opt-out of gym for modesty reasons or out of music classes for religious reasons.

Tourloukis said his request for accommodation has nothing to do with sex education per se. “I have no dispute with the birds and the bees,” he said. Age-appropriate descriptions of the facts of human sexuality are different from indoctrination into subjective categories of sexual orientation, he said, noting there are now 11 orientations.

He asked he be informed when this kind of material would be taught and to have his children be allowed to leave the classroom. “I’m only asking for what other faiths receive,” he said.

The school board was not interested learning about his concerns as a Christian. Instead he confronted a “bigoted stereotype” that paints Christians as homophobes who hate homosexuals, he said.

The board is treating constitutional rights of religious freedom as if they are subject to the Ontario Equity Policy and not the other way around, he said. He said he was told it was too difficult for the board to inform him about when subject matter might come up, even though he had given a short, specific list and that such accommodation would affect children from diverse family structures negatively. However, the fact that Muslim students leave the classroom from time to time is not treated the same way, he said.

News media attacks, especially from his home newspaper the Hamilton Spectator, have been disproportionate and slanderous, he said. He has been depicted in editorial cartoons as hateful.

“We are engaged in a culture war,” Tourloukis said, noting the battle fronts of abortion, euthanasia, and gay rights. “Children are on the front line.”

What’s at stake is the “ability to influence the moral development of our children,” he said. “Education is a way to recruit child soldiers. In twenty years there will be no Christians left to fight the battle.” The school system is imposing an “unlearning process” on children to undermine the traditional beliefs they are taught at home.

Tourloukis decried the fact there is not organized inter-denominational effort to “stop this madness.” He pointed out Catholics should not blame their leaders. The gay community is excellent at organization and even though they are relatively small in number, when one speaks up politicians know many more stand behind them.

Politicians want to know how many Catholics are behind their bishops and if they know few are, their leadership on this issue will not do much good, he said.

“Our collective response as parents and as the Body of Christ has been pathetically underwhelming,” he said.

The message of the Cross is not that wickedness is inevitable, nor should it feed a sense of apathy and hopelessness, he said. “We must be prepared to sacrifice everything for our loved ones.”

“We have failed to recognize our sacred responsibility to our children,” he said. “I’m doing nothing heroic.”

“These are my children for crying out loud,” he said. “I will not be an accomplice in the corruption of my children.”

More information about Tourloukis’ case can be found at www.defendingparents.com which is also helping raise money for similar parental rights cases elsewhere in Canada.

Donations can be made via the website or sent to The Parental Rights in Education Defense Fund 3089 Dufferin Street, P.O. Box 58119, Toronto, ON M6A 3C8.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 10:27  

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