TORONTO (RNS) A group of conservative Christian and Muslim parents in Ontario want schools to notify them before their children are taught about sexuality, birth control, "environmental worship" and occult practices.
Just days after Ontario passed an anti-bullying law that promotes acceptance of diversity, the parents began distributing a four-page form letter to their children's elementary schools in and around Toronto.
Titled "Choosing to Remain in the Public System," the downloadable form asks that parents be advised prior to their children's exposure to sex education and discussions about homosexuality, transgender issues and abortion; "environmental worship -- placing environmental issues/concerns above the value of Judeo-Christian principles and human life"; and teachings about occult practices, including witchcraft, Satanism and "wizardry."
The parents say they want advance notice so they can either withdraw their children before the lesson, or prepare them in advance.
The letter is spearheaded by PEACE (Public Education Advocates for Christian Equity) Hamilton, a Christian parents group. Phil Lees, who heads PEACE, says "hundreds" of the letters have been delivered to schools in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario.
"We've met with a half dozen Muslim groups and they are very passionate about this too," Lees said.
Meanwhile, a Greek Orthodox father has sued the Hamilton school board for refusing to warn him when his children's teachers plan to talk about family, marriage or human sexuality.
Steve Tourloukis told reporters on Sept. 10 that he only wants those issues taught to his first-grade daughter and fourth-grade son "from a Christian perspective."
Tourloukis is backed by the newly formed Parental Rights in Education Defense Fund, which is collecting money for parents who sue school boards over their "unconstitutional suppression of religious freedom and conscience rights."
"If parents do not beat back this government incursion against parent rights," the group's website says, "it will usher in an era of persecution against people of faith like never seen before in Canada."
School officials say parents can request their child be excused only from certain portions of sex education.