Donna McColl, a spokesperson for the province’s Education Minister, Thomas Lukaszuk, confirmed to LifeSiteNews.com: “Whatever the nature of schooling — homeschool, private school, Catholic school — we do not tolerate disrespect for differences. You can affirm the family’s ideology in your family life, you just can’t do it as part of your educational study and instruction.”
LifeSiteNews noted that Section 16 of the proposed new law reiterates the existing School Act’s requirement “that schools ‘reflect the diverse nature’ of Alberta in their curriculum, but it adds that they must also ‘honour and respect’ the controversial Alberta Human Rights Act that has been used to target Christians with traditional beliefs on homosexuality.” The Education Act stipulates that, in addition to public education facilities, the term “school” includes homeschool families as well as private schools.
In an interview with LifeSiteNews, McColl assured that Christian homeschool families could continue to teach biblical truths regarding homosexuality to their children, “as long as it’s not part of their academic program of studies and instructional materials. What they want to do about their ideology elsewhere, that’s their family business. But a fundamental nature of our society is to respect diversity.”
However, reported LifeSiteNews, when pressed about “what the precise distinction is between homeschoolers’ instruction and their family life, McColl said the question involved ‘real nuances’ and she would have to get back with specifics” — meaning, of course, that the law would most likely be a moving target homeschool families would find impossible to hit.
McColl emphasized in a later interview that respecting “diversity” meant that the government would not allow homeschool families and Christian schools to be involved in “hatemongering” with regards to homosexuality and other “alternative” lifestyles.
Kenneth Noster, a homeschooling father of six and director of the Alberta-based Wisdom Home Schooling, told LifeSiteNews that the upgraded Education Act would give the government “quite a long reach of the arm into the home.” He added that the measure’s Section 16 “essentially means that in order to run a school in the province you must be politically correct or you could risk being shut down.”
Alberta’s Human Rights Act has already been used to target others who have crossed the “diversity” threshold. In 2005, Catholic Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary was brought before a tribunal after sending a letter to his diocese faithful reinforcing the Church’s teaching against homosexuality. And in 2008 the Rev. Stephen Boissoin, a pastor in the community of Red Deer, was convicted of spewing “hate” after he wrote a letter to a local paper critical of homosexuality. (His conviction was later overturned by a higher Alberta court.)
Patty Marler of the Alberta Home Education Association wondered how Alberta’s Education Ministry plans on differentiating between family time and teaching time for homeschool families. “We educate our children all the time, and that’s just the way we live,” she said. “It’s a lifestyle. Making that distinction between the times when we’re homeschooling and when we’re just living is really hard to do. Throw in the fact that I do use the Bible as part of my curriculum and now I’m very blatantly going to be teaching stuff that will be against [the Human Rights Act].”
She told LifeSiteNews that the issue relates directly to how homeschool parents like herself teach their children about marriage and sexuality, since the Alberta Human Rights Act defines marriage as between two “persons” rather than between a man and a woman. “When I read Genesis and it talks about marriage being one man in union with one woman,” she noted, “I am very, very clearly opposing the human rights act that says it’s one person marrying another person.”
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a U.S.-based homeschool advocacy group, noted that Alberta’s new law would be “a first-of-its-kind attempt by a government to control what families teach in the area of values and beliefs in their own home. Allowing the government to exert this kind of power and influence could be very restrictive and permit extremely intrusive invasions of family privacy.”
Paul Faris of the Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada (HSLDA-CA) warned that the law means that “all learning that goes on in the home, all material in the home, would essentially be subject to the Alberta Human Rights Act. The Ministry of Education is clearly signaling that they are in fact planning to violate the private conversations families have in their own homes.”
HSLDA noted that Alberta has more regulations governing homeschoolers than most other provinces, with extensive monitoring of homeschool families that includes two evaluations each year by local school officials.
Michael Donnelly, HSLDA’s director of international relations, said that Alberta’s “attempt to consolidate control over homeschools and private schools, in addition to public schools, is shocking. Religious or philosophical beliefs are some of the most fundamental reasons that parents choose to homeschool their children, yet [the Education Act] seeks to control which values homeschooling parents may teach their children.” He warned that a government “that can dictate the content of learning that occurs inside the home has eliminated freedom of education and thereby has gone a long ways down the road of totalitarianism….”
Such a totalitarian curve may not be that far down the road in America. Joel McDurmon of American Vision pointed out that ideas similar to those now poised for implementation in Alberta are being recommended by such national “authorities” as Tufts University professor — and leading atheist spokesman — Daniel C. Dennett, who has declared that America “should have a national curriculum on world religions that is compulsory for all school children, from grade school through high school, for the public schools, for the private schools, for the home-schooling.…”
According to McDurmon, Dennett has declared that “toxic” religions such as Christianity “survive by the enforced ignorance of their young.” He recommends that education bureaucrats give faith-motivated parents this directive: “You can home-school your kids, you can give them 30 hours a week of religious instruction, but you’ve also got to teach them what the people that are not of your faith believe, and you have to teach them about the history of all faiths in question, including your own.”
Dennett argues that “parents are stewards of their children. They don’t own them — you can’t own your children — You have a responsibility to the world, to the state, to them, to take care of them right. You may, if you like, teach them whatever creed you think is most important, but I say you have a responsibility to let them be informed about all the other creeds in the world, too.”
Such “creeds” would, no doubt, include a healthy dose of the “diversity” gospel that insists that those practicing and promoting homosexuality — and beyond — must be respected and embraced, and the “truths” they preach enforced in both pubic and private school setting.
Christian and pro-family leaders such as McDurmon warn that, as in Canada, such an educational and cultural philosophy is gaining momentum in America, and it will be just a matter of time before homeschool parents find themselves in a fight for their right to instill healthy values in their own children.