Edmonton

Transgender policy sparks raucous debate at Catholic board meeting

A debate over a policy of gender identity and sexual orientation turned was almost derailed Tuesday night when a Catholic school trustee stated that transgender people were not part of God's plan.
Advocates, parents and media packed the boardroom at the Edmonton Catholic School District Tuesday as trustees debated first reading of a gender identity policy. (Andrea Huncar/CBC)

A raucous and emotional debate over a policy of gender identity and sexual orientation grew even more heated Tuesday night when a Catholic school trustee stated that transgender people were not part of God's plan.  

Larry Kowalczyk introduced an amendment to the policy stating that gender transitioning was contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church. 

Earlier in the evening Kowalczyk argued there was no need for a policy for transgender children at all. 

Advocates attending the board meeting were aghast, while other trustees clearly uncomfortable.

Last month Kowalczyk set off a storm of criticism when he said transgender students should be considered as having a mental illness.

While the Catholic board is now a step closer to passing a policy to protect sexual minorities, many critics are saying the meeting is proof the education minister needs to step in and either disband the Catholic board or initiate a province-wide policy.

New board chair Marilyn Bergstra, elected after the debate Wednesday, called the first reading a good step forward.

The board intends to host consultations before giving second reading to the policy scheduled for Nov. 24. 

The revised document becomes official policy after third reading, expected some time in December.

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