Canadian School District Drops Operation Christmas Child Over LGBT Stance

the logo of Operation Christmas Child, a shoebox with wings, crossed out by a red circle

A school district in Canada passed a resolution urging schools to drop any involvement in Operation Christmas Child (OCC), a charity project that has sent over 94 million shoeboxes with Christmas gifts to poor children across the world. The district ruled out any further involvement because Samaritan's Purse, the Christian nonprofit behind the project, opposes same-sex marriage and transgenderism.

The Newfoundland & Labrador English School District (NLESD) Board of Trustees agreed to drop OCC after the interim superintendent raised concerns about "inclusion." At least 11 of the 259 English-language schools in the province have taken part in the program, and just those eleven schools have sent over 1,300 shoeboxes in recent years.

Nevertheless, interim superintendent Tony Stack said the schools should not send thousands of shoeboxes to children in need because Samaritan's Purse holds a traditional Christian perspective on LGBT issues.

Stack told the Canadian Press that Samaritan's Purse "doesn't fit with the English School District's philosophy of inclusion and has been the centre of complaints, particularly as it relates to LGBT acceptance." In other words, the Christian organization does not support same-sex marriage or transgender identity, and NLESD has ruled that such positions are not "accepting" of students and are therefore unacceptable.

In a news release Thursday, the district reported that "trustees discussed Operation Christmas Child. Trustees passed a motion to direct all District schools to cease participation in this activity."

This is particularly tragic because a cursory search of schools in the district found at least 11 which have encouraged participation in OCC, and four which have sent at least 100 shoeboxes, as noted in annual reports.

"Operation Christmas Child provides an opportunity for people of all ages to be involved in a simple, hands-on project of Samaritan's Purse," the St. Matthew's School 2011-201 annual development report noted. "Samaritan's Purse is a humanitarian organization that works worldwide to meet the needs of people suffering from war, poverty, disaster, disease, and famine. Each November Operation Christmas Child collects shoeboxes filled with hygiene items, toys, and school supplies and distributes them to children worldwide regardless of gender, race, religion, or age."

"To date, Operation Christmas Child has distributed over 94 million shoebox gifts globally. The past year St. Matthew's families filled nearly 400 shoeboxes for children throughout the world," the report concluded.

Paradise Elementary gathered 300 shoeboxes in 2013-2014, and another 300 more in 2014-2015. St. Peter's Elementary School donated over 200 boxes in 2011-2012, and Queen Elizabeth Regional High School gave more than 100 in 2012-2013.

Many schools gave fewer than 100 — Mount Pearl Senior High School sent 44 in 2014-2015, and others merely encouraged participation in the program or did not report exactly how many shoeboxes were sent.