Candidate’s past opposition to LGBTQ anti-bullying policy concerns education advocates

The Board is committed to establishing and maintaining a safe, inclusive, equitable, and welcoming learning and teaching environment for all members of the school community. This includes those students, staff, and families who identify or are perceived as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, queer or questioning their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The Board expects all members of this diverse community to be welcomed, respected, accepted, and supported in every school. – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy, Edmonton Public School Board

Some education advocates are concerned that past comments made by a candidate for public school board in Edmonton could set the stage for a battle over the board’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy.

Orville Chubb Edmonton School Board
Orville Chubb

Speaking as the executive director of the Meadowlark Christian School Foundation in 2011, Ward C candidate Orville Chubb told Edmonton Journal columnist Paula Simons “it’s not that we are anti-gay in any way, shape or form… We just need to be able to articulate the moral element to all Christianity … and our Christian community is not able to accept that homosexual acts are not immoral. If you don’t feel comfortable with your children in that kind of milieu, don’t send your students here.”

The Meadowlark Christian School offers an alternative program within Edmonton Public Schools for “families who wish their children to be educated in the evangelical Christian tradition.”

Responding via email, Mr. Chubb wrote that his comments about being “able to articulate the moral element to all Christianity” was either a misquote or he had misspoken.

“I believe I was speaking to the issue of freedom of speech and Christianity’s view that everything has a moral overlay,” wrote Mr. Chubb. “The balance of the quote was the opinion of the majority of the parents of the school.”

“My position now, as it was then, is that you cannot legislate belief. I am a firm advocate for freedom of speech and conscience,” wrote Mr. Chubb. “I staunchly defend those who are discriminated against in any way.” Mr Chubb also noted that he participated in the committee which implemented the policy.

Sarah Hoffman Edmonton Public Schools
Sarah Hoffman

The current chair of the public school board says she’s proud of the work that the board has done to ensure that all students, staff and families are safe, welcome and respected in every Edmonton Public School.

“We made the decision to move forward with a policy because there is nothing more important to us than ensuring that every school is a place were students feel accepted,” said Ward G trustee Sarah Hoffman. “We have received positive feedback from the community and our accountability pillars show that students are feeling safer in our schools.”

The outgoing trustee for Ward C, Christopher Spencer, was quick to respond to Mr. Chubb’s comment. “On a factual matter, the largest Protestant denomination in Canada supports gay marriage and welcomes gay clergy, so it is incorrect to say that all Christians think that homosexuality is wrong,” said Mr. Spencer.

Mr. Spencer said more ministers and pastors contacted him in support of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy than those who were opposed to the policy.

“As for the notion of some sort of gay-free school, segregation in education based on sexual orientation or gender identity seems as awful to me as segregation based on race, and it must not be allowed to happen in a public institution committed to the needs of all children,” said Mr. Spencer.

Mr. Chubb said he will support the current stand-alone policy and regulations but would include the right for a parent to express moral perspectives on any issue, including those informed by a religious perspective.

20 thoughts on “Candidate’s past opposition to LGBTQ anti-bullying policy concerns education advocates”

  1. In our societies, Two-Spirited people were an accepted part of our communities. Only when the Church came with colonializtion did they define it as “the moral element to all Christianity” and that “accept that homosexual acts are not immoral”.
    Truth of the matter is that our belief system is entrenched in our life based on our experience, knowledge and education.
    I truly feel blessed as a First Nations person, that more and more our value system of acceptance, harmony and consciousness is being appreciated – this ‘acceptance’ is what affirms my choice to run for School Board. I believe that the door is open now for diversity, regardless of our ethnicity, gender and all other differences that use to dictate how one voted or kept their circles.

  2. Just last year Chubb argues against protection for gay kids and now he is changing his tune come election time? I smell BS… I think he’s just saying what he needs to say to get elected.

    Will Orville tell the voters that he supports gay rights and that he will work to ensure those kids are safe. It’s these kind of “NOT WELCOME” attitudes that put horrible ideas in kids heads that can cause them to harm themselves.

    Remember that other school board guy who said if kids didn’t want to get bullied they should act less gay? It’s 2013 people! Wake up!

  3. So what exactly did he say that was wrong? I don’t agree with it either but the last time I checked there’s religious freedom in this country.

  4. Perhaps non-Christian Albertans should be forced to wear patches on their clothing for easy identification. I would suggest a pentagon.

  5. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have historically condemned sodomy. Does this make practitioners of those religions ineligible for public office in our society?

  6. We should protect all the LGBT students by rounding up all the Christian Fundamentalists and teaching them a lesson! If we shame them publicly they will change their intolerant views! There is no room for such hate in a free society so we need to be tough on those Christians that won’t accept the truth!

    Or, maybe we could be tolerant of everyone. Including those we disagree with. (Madness!)

  7. As well as their ant-GLBT position, there are a few other points about the Meadowlark Christian School that are worth mentioning.
    1. They get full public funding. Oh, and they also charge about $1600 tuition on top of that.
    2. They teach creationism as Absolute Truth, and only mention evolution where required by the Alberta curriculum (which, due to the successful lobbying by religious groups, is hardly mentioned at all in the curriculum).
    3. The students are apparently taught critical thinking, but using the bible for “evaluation”. I’m guessing that means that science, facts and logic are disregarded.
    4. Any teachers must be evangelical Christians. So if you’re a fantastic, experienced and qualified teacher who is capable of inspiring students with the wonders of the science, you won’t get the job. And did I mention that these are publicly funded positions?
    5. And parents, please note: even if you live a 5-minute walk from this publicly funded school, you won’t be able to enrol your child if you happen to be a Jew, Hindu, Muslim or atheist. You’ll need to provide your pastor’s name and phone number so he can confirm that you’re a “true” evangelical.
    6. And since they can discriminate against students based on religion and sexual orientation, guess what else they get to do? They can refuse students based on academic performance. Pretty cool, eh? Why bother with taking on your share of the expense and hassle of special needs or students who are struggling in other ways? Leave that for the public schools. Then your school can get a higher rating on the Fraser Report and be offered by politicians as “proof” that alternative schools are performing well.

  8. Fred absolutely nailed it. Spot on. If there’s any discrmination going on here, it’s against those groups and it should stop.

  9. Well Fred, when that whole ‘condemning sodomy’ thing started, rape was legal, women weren’t people, and atheism was punishable by death.

    Also, if you think children (the people protected by this policy) are wanton sodomizers, I think you may need to seek professional help.

  10. Another reason why we shouldn’t have Edmonton Public setting up all these BS alternate school programs. Public education needs to offer less “choice” and more of a traditional secular school system. Let the god squad nutters go start their own charter schools… right after we change it so that charter schools don’t get a single dollar of public money.

  11. I agree entirely with Trustee Spencer and am grateful for his integrity, commitment and leadership. Our children deserve to feel honoured, safe, and respected in their lives. Our existing Board should be applauded for their efforts.

  12. It is ironic that an an EPS supporter such as Neal espouses vitriolic hatred and condemnation toward those whose view of life and education differs from his; while the Board’s policy demontrates tolerance and respect toward those with different life styles. It is perhaps partly because of those with attitudes such as Neal that Christians have opted to provide alternative schools for their children. But I like to believe that such attitudes are not all that prevalent in our society. It is my hope that we can discuss our differences without resorting to name-calling and disrepectful comments for our fellow citizens.

  13. I find it fascinating that Mr. Chubb is now suggesting – months after the fact – that he was misquoted. I stand by my original column, which was, I think, a nuanced attempt to look at how we balance the competing rights of religious minorities and LGBT students. In a multicultural and tolerant country, we need to find a way to respect the rights of religious fundamentalists who believe homosexuality is sin, with the rights of gay citizens to protection and equality. If Christian schools don’t feel they can be part of a school district that actively promotes the protection of LGBT students and staff, then those schools have every right to opt out of the Edmonton Public district. I believe that our Charter guarantees people of fundamentalist faith freedom of conscience. That doesn’t give them the right to take away the freedoms, or imperil the safety, of children they deem sinful.

  14. Scott, it sounds like you have some information about Meadowlark Christian School, but some of your information is either incorrect or incomplete.

    I don’t know all of the details of the school, and I do not speak on their behalf, but I believe I can provide more information on some of your points.

    1. Yes, the school does get some public funding, but the school owns the building and do not (to my knowledge) receive capital funding from Edmonton Public Schools for the building. This is why the extra fees are required (for building maintenance etc.) and this allows EPS to have an additional (approximately) 300 students in their system in a school that does not need to be maintained using public funds.

    2. The school does teach creationism, and although it sounds like you may not believe in it many, many people do. We live in an amazing country where we are free to have different beliefs.

    3. Your guess that “science, facts and logic are disregarded” is incorrect. I don’t think this is worth discussing as you obviously have strong opinions in this area and I won’t likely be able to change your mind, so I won’t bother discussing this in detail.

    4. There is an expectation that the teachers at the school hold to the values, principles, and beliefs that the charter of the school is based on. To me this is very similar to how you would expect a teacher to be able to speak Chinese if you enrolled your child in a Chinese speaking school, or to play an instrument if they were teaching at a music-focused alternative program. The Edmonton public school system offers over 30 different alternative programs and I would assume that each of those alternative program schools chooses teachers that can complement their mission and goals. I don’t personally know why a teacher that doesn’t hold the same views that the school is teaching would want to work there.

    5. My understanding is that children that are not evangelical Christians can enroll in the school. I don’t know why you would want to enroll your child in a school that has a focus on teaching things that you do not agree with, and that owns their own building therefore requiring additional fees on top of a regular school program. Especially when there are both public and catholic schools within a few blocks.

    6. You are making a lot of assumptions in your sixth point. Despite what you may believe the school does not reject students based on academic performance. There are many special needs children in the school that receive a great deal of love, support, and a great education. I don’t know the exact numbers of special needs children at the school, or how it compares to other schools. I do know that your assumptions of what the school is doing are incorrect.

    Again, I’m not in a position to speak on behalf of the school, but I do have some knowledge of the school and thought I should speak out because I felt that there are some comments on this post that are inflammatory and incorrect.

  15. My kids went to Meadowlark for a few years. I was impressed with the love of the teachers in that school and their integrity. There was no evidence of discrimination. The kids there deal with issues like learning disabilities, emotional issues, physical disabilities, abuse, bullies, drugs, different beliefs, and sexual orientation. For example, my oldest had a lot of academic issues and the teachers worked well with us to help her achieve his/her best, which at the time was about a 45% in Math. The teachers were interested and involved. And, my oldest was not alone in his/her academic struggles. Another memory from Meadowlark is how the kids continually showered love on a boy who was severely handicapped. Many kids expressed their appreciation of him when he left for high-school. A number of them helped him in class. Another one of my kids was good friends with someone who was unsure of their sexual orientation. The teachers helped this friend have the courage to broach the subject with his/her parents – they even arranged a “safe” mediated meeting at the school – I believe with a psychologist if I remember right. This school is not “keeping certain kids out”.

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