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

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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 affiliated with anti-LGBTQ+, anti-choice, radical right-wing political group, Campaign Life Coalition, who are known for their website LifeSiteNews, delivering propaganda on such topics as health and climate.

Further, CLC leadership and supporters are actively engaged in public forums repeating anti-LGBTQ+ hate speech, and encouraging systemic bullying, as defined in the Education Act.  This document contains a list of some of their pre-written messages being provided as talking points to their supporters, which are also being sent to decision makers within the TCDSB. 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.

The widespread bullying that is occurring in schools can have devastating effects, as we have seen recently with Devan Bracci-Selvey, 14, who was stabbed to death outside a Hamilton school after being bullied. Research shows that the longer a child is bullied, 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 counteract the ongoing damage being done by the rhetoric coming from one of the anti-LGBTQ+ trustees, Mike Del Grande.

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