TORONTO - Change may be on the horizon for Catholic schools in Halton Region. That change may be in the form of a Pride flag flying on Catholic school grounds throughout the Region during the month of June. All in celebration of Pride month.
During a Board meeting on April 6, Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) Trustee Brenda Agnew gave a notice of motion titled “Supporting our diverse school community”. The request is “that the Director of Education and Secretary of the Board direct all HCDSB schools including the Catholic Education Centre to fly the Pride flag during the month of June, starting with 2021”.
It further requests that the Board work with Student Senate and Staff in the organization of events throughout the month that focus on equity and inclusion for all. This is a longtime objective of the LGBTQ2+ community who regard June as Pride Month.
Opponents claim the system – Catholic faith-based - already advocates for equity, diversity and inclusion for all members of society. According to the HCDSB website, “the HCDSB is a model learning community, widely recognized as distinctly Catholic”… [their mission is]… “dedicated to providing excellence in Catholic education by developing Christ-centred individuals enabled to transform society”.
Board members are expected to vote on the motion at this week’s scheduled meeting, (April 20). In order to pass, the motion must receive a minimum of five votes out of nine.
The outcome would apply to all HCDSB educational facilities including 46 elementary schools, nine secondary schools and three continuing education centres. The Board serves over 37,000 students in the communities of Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville.
The HCDSB falls within the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Hamilton. CNMNG/Corriere reached out to the Most Reverend Douglas Crosby for a response as to the Church’s position on the matter of flying the Pride flag at Catholic schools throughout the HCDSB during the month of June. The Bishop’s office did not respond prior to going to print.
Nor did the Director of Education, Pat Daly, offer a response when asked whether flying the Pride flag was in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church and the mandate of HCDSB members to promote and protect Catholic education.
The topic is a point of contention between some supporters of the LGBTQ2+ community and those who advocate for the promotion of a Catholic school system approved by the magisterium and recognized in Canadian Law.
The debate concerning inclusivity, equity, diversity and the celebration of Pride month throughout Ontario Catholic schools is not a new one, especially for the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Some trustees argue they alone can determine what is Catholic.