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Mennonite families leave Quebec over school dispute.

Quebec -- Members of Quebec's only Mennonite community have opted to leave the province rather than hand their children over to a school system that teaches subjects they find objectionable. They comprise 15 well-established and well-liked families in Roxton Falls, a town of 1,308 people about 100 kilometres east of Montreal. They plan to move shortly so that their children can start school in another more accepting province in September.

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Overriding the group's attachment to Roxton Falls is the decision of the provincial government to take them to court if they do not close their small faith-based school. The education ministry has deemed it illegal because it lacks a permit, employs uncertified teachers, and does not teach the accepted standard curriculum.

But the Mennonites are vowing never to send their children to schools that teach evolution, the acceptance of alternative lifestyles (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, two-spirited lifestyles), and what they consider low "morality standards."

"It boils down to intolerance to our religion," Mennonite resident Ron Goosen told the Montreal Gazette. He also alleged that education officials have "threatened to take our children and put them in foster homes." Eleven children aged between six and 13 are currently enrolled in the school.

Yet most people in Roxton Falls appear to want the Mennonites to stay. "They're good neighbours, they integrated into the community, they work hard, they have farms, they work in business in the region. They're everywhere," said Mayor Jean-Marie Laplante. "It's not a sect that closes itself off from the others." He has appealed to Education Minister Michelle Courchesne to allow the school to stay open.

In 2002, social workers in Aylmer, Ontario, removed seven children from a Mennonite family because the family used spanking as a form of discipline (Today's Family News, Aug. 22; LifeSiteNews, Aug. 16, 2007).
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Title Annotation:Canada
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Oct 1, 2007
Words:302
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