Hamilton dad takes school board to court over gay equity policy
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Hamilton dad Steve Tourloukis is taking the Hamilton public school board to court to push for advance notice of curriculum or activities dealing with gay and lesbian rights and discussions.
Tourloukis, who has two children in primary grades at Gordon Price elementary school, says in court documents he wants advance notice of material that conflicts with his religious, moral or conscience beliefs. His application to the court includes a request to declare him the final authority, under constitutional law, over material taught to his children and the activities they participate in.
The application says he made numerous requests to the board for such religious accommodation, but was refused. So he is also seeking a court declaration that the refusal is a violation of the Education Act, the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Although his application makes no references to homosexuality, the affidavit and exhibits filed with it do.
Tourloukis, whose actual first name is Eustathios, is a dentist who practices in Smithville.
His affidavit states that “as a committed Christian and member of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, I am committed to providing a biblically-based education and upbringing for my children” and that he holds that marriage is between a man and a woman. He also quotes a Bible passage stating it is detestable “to have sex with a man as one does with a woman”.
His legal challenge is financed by the five-person Parental Rights In Education Defense Fund (PRIEDF) based in Toronto which is raising money for Tourloukis’s court challenge according to chairperson Lou Iacobelli.
PRIEDF’s website criticizes the province’s new equity policy, which is part of its education anti-bullying measures.
Iacobelli insisted that Tourloukis was not available to talk to The Spectator on Monday.
But the two men and PRIEDF lawyer, Albertos Polizogopoulos, held a news conference at Queen’s Park earlier the same day to draw attention to the court challenge.
Hamilton public board director John Malloy said it is disappointing Tourloukis feels the need to proceed legally on an issue.
But while religious accommodation for sex education has a defined process, such is not the case in equity policy, he said.
“We provide accommodation as long as it does not cause harm to others.”
Accepting a parent’s request to remove a child every time a homosexual reference is raised can have a negative effect on a classmate whose parents are gay, he said.
If a child with two moms or dads — “and we do have them in our board” — makes reference to them, “that child has the right to be included.”
Tourloukis’s court application is to be heard in civil court in Hamilton on Sept. 20.