MONTREAL (CN) – A Roman Catholic private school sued the Quebec Education Department, demanding the right to continue teaching its own curriculum rather than a new series of ethics and religious culture courses mandated by the province.
Loyola High School and a student’s parent, John Zucchi, say the courses imposed by the province are “fundamentally incompatible with its Catholic convictions and mission” as it propounds an ideology of “normative pluralism” that trivializes religious belief.
Loyola asked to be exempted from the province’s new courses in a formal letter to Education Minister Michelle Courchesne. Loyola wrote that it intended to adjust its program to make it compatible with the province’s new courses. Its request was denied in early August.
Loyola sent a second letter, asking Courchesne to reconsider, and included details of the proposed alternative curriculum that the school already has in place; it has yet to receive a response, the complaint states.
The school asserts that the minister denied its proposal for an alternative course of study due to her desire to achieve “complete uniformity in education throughout Quebec.” In doing so she disregarded a section of the Education Act that allows religious schools to seek exemptions from the province’s required programs of study if an equivalent program is provided, Loyola maintains.
The boys’ school has 734 students. It claims that hundreds of parents have expressed disapproval of the province’s new program.
“The State has no place in imposing its views about religion on children,” the complaint states.
Loyola said it strives to instill in its students an appreciation for other religions, but the province’s courses are “unacceptable in that it would amount to inculcating in students two diametrically opposed world views.”
The plaintiffs ask the court to order Courchesne to grant its exemption request.