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Protect Our LGBTQ+ Youth & Families From Discrimination in Catholic Schools

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Mary Rizzo
Mary Rizzo signed this petition

The Toronto Catholic District School Board held a vote that has resulted in dialogue that is liable to create severe systemic barriers to student learning, and potentially harm the health of our youth enrolled within the board. These barriers are specifically putting LGBTQ+ students, staff and their family’s wellbeing at risk for discrimination by continued debates on whether gender identity, gender expression, family status and marital status are worthy grounds upon which members of the TCDSB community cannot be treated unfairly.

This vote happened despite being directed to promote a system-wide approach to identifying and removing discriminatory biases and systemic barriers, while developing inclusive education policies to support student achievement and well-being within our publicly funded schools, by the Ministry of Education, in 2013. As well as despite being informed that gender identity, gender expression, family status and marital status are dimensions of diversity protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Even more alarming is this vote was held by the Trustees, 1 for each of the 12 wards, making each vote count for a large percentage of the outcome. Certain Trustees are openly affiliated with anti-LGBTQ+, anti-choice, radical right-wing political group, Campaign Life Coalition, who are more well known for their website LifeSiteNews. Both known for delivering propaganda on such topics as health and climate, often using religious scripture out of context to share their fringe beliefs with their Canadian and American cult-like followers.

See this video where TCDSB Trustee Mike Del Grande states that turns to CLC's leadership "Jack and Steve to get some supporting words" during his acceptance speech, after being awarded by them for "Excellence in Serving & Protecting Children". This award was as a result of him introducing a 12-page amendment listing acts such as bestiality, pedophilia, sadism, polygamy and vampirism; stating that these (mainly criminal) acts are equally as deserving of protection against discrimination as our youth and families that identify as LGBTQ+.

CLC leadership and followers make a point of actively engaging in public forums repeating anti-LGBTQ+ hate speech and encouraging systemic bullying (as defined in the Education Act).  Followers are also being provided with talking points, which are being sent to decision makers within the TCDSB to try to influence and/or intimidate them. One of the lines reads “it does NOT help sexually-confused individuals to encourage them in their mental illness”.

It is proven that an inclusive environment not only improves individual academics, but helps the entire community around them. Our schools need to help students develop into highly skilled, knowledgeable, and caring citizens who can contribute to both a strong economy and a cohesive society.

Research shows that the longer a child is bullied, harassed or discriminated against, the more likely they are to develop physical, emotional, and psychological scars that can last a lifetime; which is why we need to reject discriminatory behaviours and attitudes and urgently send a clear message to the TCDSB and their decision makers: 

Now that these terms protecting our youth are included within the TCDSB Code of Conduct, the integration needs to be intentional and comprehensive to restore public confidence in Toronto's Catholic schools, and make it clear that any form of discrimination, be it anti-black racism or anti-LGBTQ+ homophobia and transphobia, has no place in publicly funded education!

Please see this petition requesting Human Rights opposing trustee's are urgently removed or censured.