TORONTO - Ten clicks. That's all it takes after entering the Toronto Catholic District School Board (www.tcdsb.org) website to get to the Youthline website (www.youthline.ca) and to autostraddle.com, a web portal billing itself as an internet site with "news, entertainment, opinions, community and Girl-on- Girl culture".
It is a website with explicit [sexual] content, where films and TV shows are presented that we could safely call "soft porn"; where vibrators and sex toys of various kinds are reviewed with meticulous expertise.
It is a completely legitimate site, which has the right to exist and which targets a certain audience. It is directed to the 16- to 29-year-old audience.
The problem raised by the Corriere Canadese is that this material is directly accessible by elementary school children directly from the school board’s – a Catholic board. A child who is on the Catholic Board website, following a 10-click path, would be in front of those images.
Our newspaper has denounced this situation, which is clearly unacceptable, sparking protests from some trustees at the TCDSB and some politicians at Toronto City Council. Indeed, our complaint was spun by one City Councillor into an indiscriminate attack on the "LGBTQ2S+ community and students."
We have been accused of homophobia, intolerance, discrimination, in a crescendo of untruths, accusations and invective.
In a Motion presented By Kristyn Wong-Tam proposed to suspend/ deny City advertising to the Corriere. The measure was amended at the last moment to withdraw the intention and replace it with a direction to Staff that City Hall "reaffirms its displeasure with the Corriere Canadese following the printing and distribution of homophobic and transphobic described articles on the TCDSB, its trustees and LGBTQ2S+ families"; 24 voted in favour.
It is shocking to learn that those who govern us at the municipal level, have approached such an important vote – one that concerns issues of vital importance, such as tolerance, respect for all, human rights, equity and freedom of the press - with such superficiality without informing themselves as to the substance of the dispute between the Corriere and the TCDSB on the issue of what was appropriate content.
Municipal Councillors paid for with taxpayers' money - that is, ours - were doubly guilty before they voted. Either they didn't verify for themselves- with just 10 clicks - or if they did, they implicitly gave their consent to access, for a child, pornographic images and sex toy reviews.
A disarming, embarrassing superficiality, summed up Wednesday's speeches (before the vote) when Councillors Shelley Carroll and John Filion accused us of journalistic bullying and homophobia.
But the superficiality of reporting this story has also implicated the so-called mainstream media. For example, the Toronto Star wrote in Thursday’s article that the City Council approved the motion to remove advertising funds from the Corriere. Fake. Only late yesterday morning did the Star, in its online version correctly report that City Council did not take away advertising funds from our newspaper. We expect that in today's paper version of the Star there will be a prominent errata corrige in bold letters.
The words of Wong-Tam, who has made direct accusations that affect the professionalism of those who work in this newspaper, who have always defended the rights of the LGBTQ2S+ community, are shocking. But she will have to address that in Court.
But we ask ourselves: before the vote and before the Corriere Canadese was accused of homophobia did members of the Council read the review (in the pic, an example from "autostraddle") of the "Cookie Vibrator" or the "Chakrubs Heart Crystal Dildo", or the "Cute Little Fuckers' Princette Puppypus" on the site just described? No? Well, a 10- or 11-year-old, starting with the TCDSB website, could do that, with 10 simple clicks.
We won’t apologized for thinking that might be inappropriate for our children.
In the last three weeks, our editorial board, comprising the publisher, Joe Volpe, and all journalists of the editorial staff, has wrestled with the issue of publishing some photos of the material on the site. For a while we decided against it. But now is the time to say enough is enough, because our readers have the right to the unvarnished facts under discussion: the images we publish are the "least unpublishable" ones; there's more on the site.
We repeat for the umpteenth time, our objection is not against the site itself, but against the decision of the TCDSB to allow unimpeded access to the site for children.
From the TCDSB website, through 10 clicks, is possible to get to the site that contains the images we have published and much more. From www.tcdsb.org, click on Programs and Services, go to Special Services, click on Mental Health, then on Resources, then on Students, then on LGBTQ youth resources website: youthline. From here click on Our Programs, then on Online Resources, then on Sex, Sexual Health and More, finally on Autostraddle's Sex and Relationship Essay. A pornographic site, not suitable for children.