TORONTO - There will be no rainbow Pride flag flying at Catholic schools next June in the Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB). The decision was the outcome of a special meeting of the Board, Monday night convened to discuss a motion to fly the Pride flag during the month of June.
The original motion, titled “Supporting our Diverse School Community”, required the Director of Education and Secretary of the Board, Pat Daly, to direct all HCDSB schools, including the Catholic Education Centre to fly the Pride flag, starting June 2021. Burlington Trustee, Brenda Agnew, had initially presented the motion at a Board meeting on April 6.
Additionally, the Motion called for more events which focus on equity and inclusivity during the month of June and to mandate “Safe Space” posters in every classroom. These measures are designed to “ensure that students in the 2SLGBTQ+ community are supported throughout the month that focus on equity and inclusion for all”, the Motion read.
The idea of hoisting the Pride flag at Catholic schools has been a controversial topic throughout Catholic school boards in Ontario. Monday night was no exception. It highlighted issues of denominational rights, responsibilities of trustees and civic respect for the Canadian flag. Trustees Iantomasi and O’Brien seemed particularly determined to make the points. Successfully, in the end.
During the 3.5-hour meeting, several amendments were made to the original motion. The most significant was the removal of the requirement that all schools within the HCDSB and the Catholic Education Centre be directed to fly the Pride flag.
Instead, the Board placed emphasis on the notion that, “all of our students and staff are met through a focus on equity and inclusion”. This would include mandatory training for all senior staff, including teachers, early childhood educators and social workers.
That mandatory training will centre on “the Catholic Social Teaching on loving and accompanying students who identify as 2SLGBTQ+, denominational rights and rights of students and staff under the Ontario Human Rights Code”.
The original motion requested more events throughout the month of June that focus on equity and inclusivity. Monday night, the Board proposed that all staff “raise awareness around Pride month, utilizing the guidelines the Institute for Catholic Education has provided”.
Trustees seemed accepting of the compromise. The motion passed in a vote of 7-2.