It is unfortunate that Rosie DiManno did not contact me or my lawyer before painting a caricature of “helicopter parents” seeking to undermine “the soul of Catholic-based education.” If she had done so, she would have discovered that she supports my position. After all, I sent my sons to a Catholic school, and readily acknowledge that God will be mentioned, prayers will be read, and Catholic values will be referred to.
I asked only that my sons be free to absent themselves from religious courses, rituals and retreats. Subsection 42(13) of the Education Act provides for an exemption from “programs or courses in religious education.” I believe that programs include rituals and retreats (i.e., field trips to a church). As Ms. DiManno ably puts it, “surely participation in some religious rituals should not be demanded of the non-Catholic students.”
Of course, the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board disagrees. When I first applied for the exemption, my request was denied and the superintendent advised that it would cost me a fortune to litigate the matter.
Since that time, I have obtained the exemption to religious courses. The question now before the Divisional Court is whether the board can compel students to attend religious rituals and retreats.
I do not know how the Divisional Court will decide. Whatever Ms DiManno may think of my parenting, I do know that my sons will have learned how to stand up for themselves.