ALBERTA

Calgary Bishop Fred Henry Doubles Down On Stance Against LGBTQ Guidelines

01/28/2016 06:15 EST | Updated 01/29/2016 11:59 EST
Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary/Facebook

If Albertans were hoping for an apology from Calgary Bishop Fred Henry after his remarks on the province's new LGBTQ guidelines for schools, the bishop wants them to know they're out of luck.

Henry came under fire earlier this month after slamming new policy suggestions in an open letter, calling the guidelines "totalitarian" and "anti-Catholic".

"If you are reading this piece in the hopes of discovering an apology and/or a retraction, you might as well stop reading right now."

On Monday, the bishop published "part two" of his letter — and he's not budging on his stance.

"If you are reading this piece in the hopes of discovering an apology and/or a retraction, you might as well stop reading right now. That's simply not going to happen," Henry wrote.

"Being an 'adult' means having a faith which does not follow the waves of today's fashions or the latest novelties."

The bishop added that he has received plenty of support" for his opinion, and argues that his position is in line with that of Pope Francis.

Potentially harmful words

Pace Anhorn, director of Calgary's Young Queer Church, said Henry's letters are heartbreaking.

"We've got somebody that is a bishop, that is a leader within this faith community, that has not seen the broader scope of the beauty and the diversity of God's creation," Anhorn told CBC News.

"He's telling us not to judge him, but ... he's turning around and judging us, too," he added.

Edmonton transgender advocate Marni Panas said the religious community should be able to co-exist with the LGBTQ community without issue.

“We are not trying to force the church to change its definitions. One can be Catholic, one can be a leader in the Catholic church, and still love and welcome a transgender person. In fact, isn't doing so the more Catholic thing to do?” the advocate said in an interview with Metro News.

Alberta Education Minister David Eggen is planning to meet with Catholic leaders in coming weeks to discuss the conflict, the Edmonton Journal reported.

Eggen said other religious communities, including the Edmonton Islamic Academy and the Talmud Torah Jewish School, haven't expressed issue with the suggested policy changes.

New guidelines meant to support students

The new guidelines, which were introduced in early January, offer suggestions for school boards drafting policies to help LGBTQ students feel safe and accepted.

The rules address a range of issues, but specify that transgender students be allowed to use the washroom of their choice, depending on their gender or on whether they perceive themselves to be a girl or a boy.

The guidelines also state that transgender students be allowed to dress based on that same principle and play on sports teams they feel align with their gender identity.

With files from the Canadian Press

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