Les écoles catholiques sont poison

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Christopher Karas a student at École Secondaire Catholique Sainte-Famille in Mississauga knows just how poisonous Catholic Schools can be.

According to a Toronto Star article,

Christopher Karas, a Grade 12 student at École Secondaire Catholique Sainte-Famille, claims he has been repeatedly belittled by teachers and administration for being gay.

Karas’ complaints about his treatment and the teaching against homosexuality were undermined throughout his time at L’École secondaire catholique Sainte-Famille.  Karas will graduate in spring 2014 and get away from this poisonous atmosphere; however, because Karas is committed to  “creating a safe space at school for everyone,” he decided to file a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

Doric Germain’s novel Poison is required reading for grade 12 students at Karas’ school. The plot of Poison would be horrifying to any sensitive student, gay or straight.

According to The StarPoison

tells the tale of a family torn apart by alcoholism. In one passage, a father comes home drunk to find his son Patrick “pants down with another boy.”

The father lashes out and says, “I will not tolerate a f—-t in my house.”

He then beats Patrick in a fit of rage, and “therefore transformed the f—-t into a cripple,” the book says. The boy eventually devolves into a lifestyle of drugs.

When Karas complained to the vice-principal, she refused to remove the book from the curriculum because “the school does not censor books.”

Does she mean L’École secondaire catholique Sainte-Famille doesn’t censor books, or Catholic schools don’t censor books?  She must be defending her own school because Ontario Catholic schools have censored/banned books. In one high-profile case the Halton District Catholic School Board removed atheist Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

The high school years can be a difficult time for students; they can be particularly difficult for students in Catholic high schools where students are expected to ignore and repress their sexuality.  When you are a gay student like Karas, your sexuality is also attacked by systemic homophobia.

The English translation for Sainte-Famille is Holy Family, but L’École secondaire catholique Sainte-Famille is not a holy family; it is a dysfunctional family.

4 thoughts on “Les écoles catholiques sont poison

  1. “the school does not censor books.”

    Oh man, if I were a student at that school, I’d so call that bluff.

  2. The vice-principal sounds a bit confused. Does she think the school is “censoring” every book that has ever been removed from the required reading list in favour of another one? Removing a book from the school library could be called censorship within the limited domain of the school, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

    I’m not on Karas’ side either, though, at least in the specific matter of the book. High school students should be mature enough to handle literature with a bit of potentially disturbing content. I’d have found high school English classes deathly boring if we’d only been asked to read books in which the characters all treated each other respectfully.

  3. I would like to mention that the publishing house behind this book is very much pro-gay. They have published many gay authors such as Tomson Highway. As for Doric Germain’s book, I have not read Poison (though we had talked about it in a literature class in college). I have, however, read all his other books and he seems very liberal. In fact, just from this excerpt alone, I don’t feel I can judge the book. Considering the book’s point was to denounce alcoholism, I feel this excerpt is simply setting up this father as another antagonist in the story. I don’t recall any mention of actual gay bashing called upon by the author outside of the immediate context of this negative character. Though I am staunchly against the Catholic school system, I would ask the blogger to give the book a full read to clarify Doric Germain’s position. I will be surprised if there is justification for the criticism, since, as I’ve first stated, the publishing house and it’s staff which I know personally support gay rights.

  4. Pingback: Gay Catholic Student Speaks Out | Canadian Atheist

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