A Catholic high school in Red Deer is being criticized for a pro-life presentation to students that compared abortion to the Holocaust.
The presentation in March by Red Deer and Area Pro Life was recorded by a student at École Secondaire Notre Dame High School during a mandatory Grade 10-12 religion class.
It started with a video entitled “The Case Against Abortion, Personhood.” At about the 1:20-minute mark, the video references the Auschwitz death camp and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s “scheme by which severely disabled children could be murdered.”
“Then once the war began,” the video’s subtitles read, “this killing was extended to disabled adults as well (and then to all ‘unwanted’ persons).”
Cristina Stasia, the founder and chair of AIM (Accessing Information not Myths), said she was “really frustrated” when she saw the video. AIM’s focus is getting medically accurate, comprehensive, factual and not fear-based sexual education into Alberta classrooms.
“Certainly for a Catholic school, abortion is an important topic for them but we don’t talk about abortion by lying and exaggerating and comparing it to the Holocaust.
“One thing that was shocking was the astounding medically inaccurate information that’s being provided to students,” Stasia said. “We know they’re happening in our schools. We know that groups are coming in, they are politically motivated groups, they are not experts in their field. They are being allowed to disseminate all this inaccurate information to students.
“It is clear that we need provincial oversight and provincial intervention here.”
WATCH BELOW: A Red Deer Catholic high school has been blasted by the education minister following a pro-life presentation which compared abortion to the holocaust. Kendra Slugoski reports.
AIM is calling for an immediate, province-wide investigation into the state of sexual health education in Alberta schools.
“Fortunately, one brave student had the courage to share a video, but too many other classrooms have unqualified presenters teaching students incorrect information and myths about sexual health, abortion, and sexual assault–and jeopardizing student health and decision making in the process,” Stasia said.
AIM is calling on the education minister to do the following:
- Launch an immediate investigation into all third-party sexual health presenters in Alberta school districts
- A rush-order on the provincial sexual health curriculum update to include comprehensive, age-appropriate, medically accurate, consent and evidence-based outcomes
- Issue an immediate ministerial order that all non-teacher presenters must be approved by the government
Alberta’s education minister alerted the school district to the video and presentation after a student contacted him.
“We do have excellent filters and obviously we didn’t catch something like this,” Dave Eggen said. “I think it’s a good reminder to everybody to be vigilant and to ensure this sort of hateful propaganda doesn’t infiltrate our schools.”
On Tuesday, Eggen reiterated his concerns.
“It’s completely outrageous. I was offended.”
“The Red Deer and Area Pro-Life group presenting in schools – I have a big problem with that too.”
The minister said the district dropped the ball on this. He’s asked Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools to explain how, why and when the presentation took place.
“They let this thing slip through. It’s not good for kids to be presented inaccurate information. It’s outrageous to the general public that someone would make a connection between abortion and the Holocaust.
“It doesn’t belong in our schools.”
“It doesn’t belong there and if it’s being used anywhere else here across the province, I want to hear about it immediately,” Eggen said.
“The presentation was inappropriate and misleading, using incorrect information and, quite frankly, frightening.”
Watch below: Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools is looking at how it can better vet third-party presenters after a video comparing abortion to the Holocaust was shown in a Grade 10 Religion class.
The presenter, who said she’s “in school for social work,” repeatedly made statements about right and wrong and offered her opinion.
“Already, by Week 3, that baby is alive,” she said.
“Let’s just say that a woman does get raped and she does get pregnant and she bravely and courageously decides to have that child,” she can be heard telling the class. “She’s making the choice to have that child. Later on down the road, after she has a healthy baby boy, she can’t stand to look at him because he reminds her of her rapist. He acts as a trigger. Would we say it’s OK to kill her baby boy then?”
“So, why are we saying that it is OK for her to kill that same baby boy when he’s just younger and more dependent inside of her womb?”
READ MORE: Sexual education compared across Canada
The presenter spoke in front of a slide that lists reasons that might influence a woman’s decision to have an abortion, including poverty, this child is unwanted, age, career/education, fetal disabilities, health of the mother, rape.
“I don’t think we can ever justify anyone having an abortion based off of these circumstances,” she says. “I don’t think there’s ever a good reason to have an abortion.”
The student who recorded the demonstration asked to remain anonymous but said: “I just want facts, not opinion.”
“I just want accurate information from an expert and both sides presented.”
The Red Deer and Area Pro Life group has been hired to make presentations at the school in the past.
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools is now speaking with the group and looking to tighten up its procedures for when outside agencies make presentations to students.
“I think the challenge in that particular video was the reference to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, which I think is not an appropriate reference to make,” the district’s board chair, Guy Pelletier, told Global News.
In a news release, the district said it has asked Red Deer and Area Pro Life to “make adjustments to their presentation to ensure it is more appropriate for students.”
Scroll down to read the full statement from Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools.
The video, from Abort73, is also posted on the Red Deer and Area Pro Life Facebook page. Abort73 is described as an “online resource designed to creatively and comprehensively educate students about the injustice of abortion” and a subdivision of Loxafamosity Ministries, a non-profit Christian education corporation.
Pelletier said the district hasn’t had any difficulties with Red Deer and Area Pro Life in the past.
“We certainly have a lot of faith both in our senior administration and school-based administration.
“We’ve asked them to take a look at how they vet these third-party presentations and make sure what they’re bringing into the classroom is appropriate for the age group there.”
Alberta’s education minister is working with the district. It was the province who alerted the school district to the video and presentation after a student contacted the education minister.
Stasia said AIM willingly works with school boards to make sure evidence-based information is presented to students, especially regarding sexual education.
“There’s not enough oversight and regulation to ensure these things are not happening,” she said.
“We know that groups who are not experts in sexual health, who are not experts in abortion, who are not experts in queer issues are presenting in our schools.”
The Edmonton Public School Board adopted a policy of only using government-approved sexual health educators.