This column is a shout out to integrity, and it goes to the English School District of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The school district, like most across the country, has a policy of inclusion aimed at making school an accepting place for all children. That policy put the district at odds with the espoused views of a well-known children's Christmas support program. To its credit, the school district stood by its policy and declared the Christmas program could not operate in its schools this year.
The program is run by an evangelical, fundamentalist organization which holds very conservative views about human sexuality and marriage. It requires all volunteers for its program to sign a formal document affirming those views and has in fact rejected volunteers who have refused.
The school board understood the conflict this might pose for some of their students who would understand they were being asked to support a program which did not support them as individuals.
In its decision to keep this particular program out of the schools, the district affirmed that it supports various other programs which provide assistance and are in compliance with the district's policy of inclusion. It has also begun the process of reviewing its guidelines for working with any third-party which wants to work within the school system.
The school district began to feel the heat of its decisions almost immediately but has stood its ground. For this they deserve to be commended.
The district took a courageous decision, one which I would suggest other school boards in other jurisdictions should take a close look at. The Newfoundland-Labrador district understood that if it was to have a policy on inclusion, that policy must be effective and enforced, whatever the outcry.
By taking the stand they have, the district has taught its students a very important lesson in integrity.
Frank Likely is a retired Anglican minister and past president of the Springhill and Area Chamber of Commerce.