'Majority' of Edmonton Catholic board decided to send Bishop Henry letter
Education minister, Catholic bishops, meeting on gender identity policies
The decision to send parents a pastoral letter denouncing the province's new guidelines for LGBTQ students as "totalitarian" and "anti-Catholic" was made by a "majority of trustees" on the Edmonton Catholic School Board.
Board chairwoman Marilyn Bergstra said Monday she was not part of the decision to send the letter from Calgary Bishop Fred Henry, along with a link to the province's new guidelines, because she was at a meeting.
"I was at a (Alberta School Boards Association) board of directors meeting so I didn't have opportunity to provide feedback," Bergstra said Monday afternoon. "Had (I had) that opportunity, I would have advised against the move to send out the information.for a variety of reasons."
Bergstra apologized to anyone who was hurt or harmed by the remarks in Henry's letter. She declined to offer additional details about what happened.
The guidelines, released last week, are to be used by the province's 61 schools boards in drafting the gender diversity policies due at the end of March.
- Bishop Fred Henry's letter
- Catholic parents question trustees over Calgary bishop's 'homophobic' letter
- Calgary bishop calls Alberta school gender guidelines 'totalitarian' and 'anti-Catholic'
- Guidelines released for mandatory LGBTQ policies in Alberta schools
Education Minister David Eggen said the vast majority of Albertans want equality for LGBTQ students. He said trustees need to uphold the letter of the law.
"They need to sort themselves out and make sure that they are doing the job to which they've been elected and are paid to do," Eggen said.
Catholic schools in Alberta are publicly funded.
Eggen plans to meet with Alberta's Roman Catholic bishops "as soon as possible" about the guidelines.
On Monday, Eggen acknowledged that while bishops may have different opinions "the spirit of collaboration, I believe, will prevail."
"School boards and our department will do everything we can to find resolution," he said.
"The stakes are high," Eggen said. "These are some of our most vulnerable students in schools. They've not been served well up to this point, as well as they could be."
The time of the meeting has yet to be finalized, but Eggen is hoping it can happen as early as this week.