A new school holiday for ignorance

If parents like Steve Tourloukis get their way, kids can thank gays, like Santa, for an extra day at home

A new holdiay for ignorance, thank you

Bernard Weil/Toronto Star

For years now, the gay-averse community has kvetched about all the terrible things that will happen when society and government treat homosexuals like everyone else. In the United States, socially conservative groups like the Family Research Council and the Republican party minus Condoleezza Rice, feared that the 2011 repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”—the Clinton-era policy prohibiting gays from serving openly in the military—would be a “distraction” to American troops. When, remarkably, it wasn’t (studies show the repeal’s effect was nothing but positive), the gay-averse turned their attention once again to same-sex marriage, for which they can’t even invent a negative consequence, without reviving the disproven ones of Canadian yore: the conservative Canadian argument of 2003, that marriage equality would destroy traditional marriage as we know it, even if the Canadian divorce rate is steadily declining. So what’s left? In an equitable society that accepts and celebrates gay people and their families, someone—anyone—must pay the price.

If a group of Canadian parents comprised of religious Christians and Muslims (and they say homosexuality makes for strange bedfellows) gets its way, someone finally will: none other than their own children. Steve Tourloukis, a dentist and member of the Greek Orthodox church, who lives in Hamilton, is currently suing his kids’ public school board for failing to warn him in advance about when, specifically, the school’s teachers would be discussing subjects like family values, marriage and sexuality in class. He would like said issues to be taught to his children from a Christian perspective only. And he would like the right to remove his kids from classes that don’t share that perspective. Tourloukis isn’t alone.

Socially conservative Canadian groups like the Family Coalition Party and the Parental Rights in Education Defense Fund have rallied behind him, as have a number of Christian and Muslim parents who’ve copied the same five-page “Traditional Values Letter” Tourloukis used (written by Phil Lees, the head of the Family Coalition Party, who also leads PEACE—Public Education Advocates for Christian Equity—Hamilton), and sent it to schools across the Greater Toronto Area. (I tried to interview Tourloukis but he said he was “familiar with my work” and would rather not comment.) They too would like to remove their kids from classes that discuss homosexuality, marriage and even “environmental worship.” Apparently recycling is now on par with homosexuality.

The parents’ activism comes on the heels of Ontario’s proposed anti-bullying “accepting schools” law, Bill 13, which promotes diversity, gay-straight alliances, and affirms that regular, mentally stable, gay people exist and deserve the right to live free from discrimination. (And, no, they don’t all have AIDS). In other words, if Bill 13 raises awareness about gay rights, Tourloukis and company are raising unawareness. And if they’re successful, they can add another holiday to their calendars: an Official Day of Ignorance.

Not only will their kids get a free pass on Christmas, Easter and Id al-Fitr, they’ll be pulled from class essentially every time a gay student isn’t bullied; every time someone does a book report on Harry Potter (the Traditional Values Letter is very explicit about witchcraft and wizardry); every time a teacher is guilty of “placing environmental issues above the value of [insert religion here] principles”, and “teaching that life does not begin at conception.”

If the parents’ prayers are answered, there will be more Official Days of Ignorance on the school calendar than there are Jewish holidays—a truly remarkable feat.

The sad thing is that while Tourloukis and friends have ample faith in God, they have little faith in their own children. They may be young, but they are old enough to get the message: when something is complicated, or tests your religious principles, don’t engage it, or even ignore it. Take a vacation. Because it’s a lot easier to hate and fear something you’ve never encountered.

There’s also the possibility that this kind of ignorance worship could backfire, and become a blessing in disguise for the gay community. After all, if Steve Tourloukis gets his way, who will these children credit every time they get to miss another ostensibly controversial day of school? Not their father, or the Father. They’ll just know it has something to do with gay people. Gays (much like Santa, much like Rosh Hashanah) = no school—i.e. Gays = Nintendo Wii. Could there be a better, more resonant reason for tolerance? I think not.

But for now we can take solace in the fact that Tourloukis is a dentist, which means that sitting somewhere in his office, is a Maclean’s magazine with my big gay smirk in it. At least there was.


A new school holiday for ignorance

  1. Send your kids to private school or home school them if you don’t want them exposed to reality (there are gay people in Canada, they too have rights, etc.). Public school, on the other hand, shouldn’t be subject to the tailored bigotries of a few messed up parents who want to instill the fear of sky faeries, angels, whatever, into their children.

    • Or a bunch of gay promoting co-parents

  2. We’ll allow religion to be taught in our schools, when teachers can present evolution in churches.

    • In your church, they can, Silly Emily.

      • Don’t have a church, dude.

        • All men are born of a woman.

          Fantasy is your medium of infinitization.

          You have a phantasmagorical fetish and go to the Church of the Stinky Donut Hole.

          Speak to us O Toothless One!

          • The hospital phoned….they’re looking for you.

  3. I say let ’em all have a day off whenever they fear being mortified or offended. A truly tolerant society has to tolerate even the intolerant, as long as their behaviour isn’t overtly abusive, dangerous, or discriminatory in a way that unjustly restricts or disentitles others. Let them go home and wallow in their self-imposed ignorance rather than disseminate their narrow beliefs.

    • Actually these kind of issues have been dealt with before. The kids don’t have to “go home”. Rather, they can leave the classroom and go to the library and be supervised there by the librarian or even sit in the principal’s office if the “undesirable subject being taught” involves a field trip. Unfortunately, it is a kind of drag for the students but seeing how it is their own parents who are imposing the abscence from the classroom, it is a necessary occurence.
      Ever since things like sexual education became part of the ciriculum, parents have been coming out of the wordwork to protest that they don’t want their children “exposed to this or that subject”. Schools have been finding ways to accomodate these people and their fears.

  4. Amazing ending! I will never grow old of your particular brand of satire. Thank you.

  5. By taking this away from your children; you are also taking it away from the rest of the children. Making people like this ever more the hypocrite.

    If he wants his child taught in a specific way he should teach them himself – not put them in PUBLIC school where they are bound to learn about the PUBLIC. Shocking concept. If his family is so religious anyways – he should have faith in his children to stick to what they believe, not what they are told to believe.

    I will lose all faith in the development of humanity if this gets approved. Someone has to teach our children.

  6. The view of society does not necessarily reflect the “right” view. Children do not have the ability to think critically at that age, and as such it is not the role of the state to educate them, especially against the wishes of the parents. The state does not parent better than actual parents, and if you could actually have children, Ms. Teitel, you’d be able to tell them all about your “big gay” perspective on the world, and you don’t need publicly-funded schools to do it for you.

    • It’s coo, my children will know about science and evolution and yours won’t have a clue. Can’t wait to see how they deal with the real world when you’re not there to shield them. ;) It all evens out in the end.

      • Of course these children will HAVE to learn about science and evolution, even if to them they are only “theories”. This information will be tested on the provincial exams in grade 12 if they have them in their province. Also, they cannot prosper in university without this knowledge. The real stickler here is about sex education and whether it is a choice to be gay. The Catholics teach sex ed but nothing about birth control. These people feel their world spinning out of control. They think they can stop their children from becoming tolerant by denying them knowledge. They don’t get it that some of their kids are gay too. That is why the Catholic boards are being pressured to extend rights to gay highschool kids.

        • Mammalian evolution is entirely heterosexual.

          Billions of mammals on the planet are the evidence.

          Yes, your gay pedophile Catholic priests want to tell the boys all about it!

      • Based on just a few sentences I’m certain that you don’t have a clue, and therefore it’s likely your children have not a clue either. It all evens out in the end.

    • The real issue is that it is not the job of the state nor the school to parent YOUR children, Patrick Henry Speck. It is absolutely YOUR job. If you don’t want your children learning about the world and the realities of society then you should either keep them at home or start your own school which shields them from those realities.
      However, I must warn you as a parent of two adult children who attended Catholic school and were shielded from the realities “inside” the classroom, the outside world still infringes and unless you transport your children through life in a bubble, they undoubtedly will even meet other adolescents who are gay because even in those sheltered schools there are kids who are gay. Thus be prepared to answer some questions. The bubble cannot be sustained.

  7. When we kowtow to the aggressively mindless, we’re no better.

  8. I cannot concur entirely with the bulk of the respondents on this page
    without further details. What age of kids are we talking about? I
    don’t think a second grader needs a class on homosexuality, for
    example. I would be visiting the principal if that occurred with my
    little kid in the class.

    • Why?

    • The druggies and perverts can only promote an ever expanding market for their filth by first molesting the minds of children so they can later molest their bodies.

  9. Social conservativism is not an excuse. Schools should teach about gay rights, evolution, the necessity of abortion, environmentalism, racism, the need to ban private gun ownership(gun free society’s are violence free societies), and workers rights. Parents who disagree can shut up! Children are citizens of the state. Parents are just temporary influences and have little value. It is for the state to give children information on issues not their parents. Their parents bring preconcieved(often uneducated) opinions and therefore should not influence their children. Social conservatives should thank their lucky stripes. If I was prime minister, I would close all churches and advise all priests and ministers to leave the country.There is no place for social conservatives or their religious friends in the public square. This minority must be made to submit. They fail to realize that humanity will be only be free when it embraces a mix of socialist economic policies and radical anti-clerical social policies. A society where government cares for people and allows then the personal freedom to do as they wish free of judgement(or any preconceived values system).

  10. Just a small, niggling point about a well written article.

    When Tourloukis turned you down for the interview, he didn’t say: “I’m familiar with my work”… He likely said: “I’m familiar with your work.”

    So the “my” in your quote should be in square brackets to indicate that it’s different from what was originally said but conveys the proper meaning in this context.

    (I said it was niggling… But I see this mistake in print all the time.)

    On a similar point, the poster Emilyone says: “Don’t have a church dude.”

    Without a comma, it sounds like she lacks a “church dude”. I hope she finds him!

  11. Well, maybe he doesn’t think that these classes are really about discussing anything. It strikes me that these sessions would be a hell-hole of a psyops grade public shaming exercise. Much like this article.

    What???? YOU DOUBT same-sex marriage! (Cue Invasion of the Body Snatchers scream.)

    • Nobody panics when things go according to plan, even if the plan is horrifying.

      If I were to tell the press millions of Americans would be blown up by an Iranian nut job or that their entire life savings have been stolen by Democrats with bailouts and Obamacare, nobody panics because it is all part of the plan.

      But if I say a few homosexuals in San Francisco are upset over their little wee wees, why, everyone just loses their minds!


      A. Joker

  12. I no longer expect Macleans journalists to present both sides of either an argument or a story, but for anyone interested, the questions at hand are these:

    (1) Should schools dictate what ideology a child is taught, or should this decision be left to those responsible for the child’s upbringing: the parents?

    (2) Should public schools be indoctrinating children in religious/anti-religious doctrine at all? Or should the school, just perhaps, limit itself to education rather than indoctrination?

    Shallow journalists may be inclined to think that items like climate change doctrine and the moral rectitude of gay sex are incontrovertible facts, but this view is simply an exhibition of narrow-minded inability to accept alternate viewpoints. It is, in fact, a reflection of the ideology which is too often foisted on children and college students in schools already. What schools should be doing is teaching children (and journalists) how to think, not teaching them what to think.

    • Teaching kids that everyone is equal, and deserving of fair treatment isn’t “indoctrination”. It’s preparation for living in the 21st century. “Indoctrination” is teaching kids to avoid anything that doesn’t match up to a bunch of 2000 year-old fairy tales.

      • (1) You’re right, teaching kids that everyone is equal and deserving of fair treatment is fine. However, that is not the same as teaching kids that gay marriage is good, that gay sex is healthy, or that Christianity is false.

        (2) Teaching kids that their religion is “a bunch of 2000 year-old fairy tales” is indoctrination. It might be fine if we knew it to be true. We don’t. I’m guessing you don’t understand this point at all, do you. Which is why parents like this one will fight hard not to have narrow-minded ideologues like yourself dictating what their kids are taught.

        • Well said. It’s people like j-rock that wish to spread dissension and hate in society by denigrating others’ beliefs and best wishes for their children.

          • Hate is not a “sin,” reverend.

            I reject your “spread the other cheek” religion.

        • Yes, actually we do know that to be true…..however religion isn’t taught in public schools.

  13. I wonder if any of the muslim parents grasp the irony in that only a generation or two ago, their “colleagues” in this fight would have asked their kids to leave the room if the teacher had tried to explain that people with dark skin were not inferior?

    • And Jerry Sandusky molested little black boys at Penn State…

  14. Well said Gaunilon. What is wrong with having the children (yes – they are children!) not attend that specific part of the class? Why are many of you saying to remove the child from PUBLIC school? And yes, a second grader should be focused on understanding fairness, sharing and learning the basics of language and math, they should not be exposed to discussions around such topics. Lastly, the author of this opinion should consider the concept of balance in her future articles.

  15. xxx

  16. Homosexuals don’t just want equality, they want acceptance. Homosexuality disgusts me and no amount of equality will change that. In order for the family to survive special consideration must be given to them, not the 3% who are sodomites.

  17. Wow. It will
    never cease to amaze me that seemingly smart people attribute this “brand
    of satire” as productive. It seems
    easy, and even popular, for simple people to poke fun at those with (religious)
    conviction. Shame on all of you…you
    are the epitome of hypocrisy (think about it…you’ll get it eventually). Good luck
    in life (or afterwards!)…

  18. More garbage from the left! Schools teach ABC’S & 123. Let Parents teach good values to their kids.