More than 1200 people packed the gymnasium and chapel at Steinbach Christian High School on Sunday, Feb. 24 to learn about Bill 18, Manitoba’s proposed amendments to the Public Schools Act. The legislative changes are intended to create a framework addressing the issue of bullying but some feel the bill could interfere with religious freedoms.

“We support the intent of this legislation but think it’s poorly written,” said Scott Wiebe, the school’s principal.

He is concerned the legislation will force independent and religious schools to support activities and organizations that go against their values.

“It’s not about one particular group or activity. We just feel that we shouldn’t be asked to have any activities that would contravene our faith principles,” he said.

There is a section in the bill stating schools must promote awareness, understanding and respect for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. That wording does not sit well with John Fehr, whose granddaughter attends SCHS.

“Why would we promote something we don’t believe in, right?”

School and religious leaders in Steinbach encourage people to write to their MLAs and the Ministry of Education if they have concerns with Bill 18.

Wiebe says he hopes the legislation can be re-written so faith-based schools can be exempted from portions that might contradict their values.