Support The Student P.R.I.D.E. Movement!
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The Student P.R.I.D.E. Movement needs your help in supporting LGBTQ+ students and staff within the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB)!
What is The Student P.R.I.D.E. Movement? The Student P.R.I.D.E. Movement is an organization of community members who are proud, religious, inclusive, dynamic and educational. We are seeking positive change for LGBTQ2+ students and staff within the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.
On May 25th, 2020, the WCDSB held a board meeting with their trustees regarding flying a Pride flag in front of their Board owned and operated buildings. Within this meeting, Director of Education, Loretta Notten, presented a flag created by the school board which they planned on flying in substitution of the traditional rainbow flag, created in 1978 and flown to represent safe spaces for LGBTQ+ folks. Despite the fact that the board did not collaborate with any LGBTQ+ students or staff, of past or present, nor with local LGBTQ+ organizations, the board believed this designed flag would speak for their "support" towards the LGBTQ+ community. Within this board meeting, elected trustee Greg Reitzel said this: "Pride is the deadliest of deadly sins." When faced with backlash from the community, Greg Reitzel issued an "apology", which did not come from himself but rather via board chair Bill Conway. In this apology, the statement was made that he felt "saddened" that "other people" were hurt by this statement. Not only do we believe this apology is insincere, we believe that through the actions of trustees and board members, besides Melanie Van Alphen, not standing up against these statements, the board is perpetuating a system of homophobia/transphobia.
On May 29th, 2020, the WCDSB released a statement that they would not be flying the Board created flag, nor would they be flying the traditional rainbow flag. On June 3rd, Loretta Notten sent out a letter to students apologizing for the hurt that was felt throughout the community by the proposed flag. Within this statement, there was no apology directly related to Greg Reitzel's statements, nor was there word that the School Board opposes these views. We believe this apology was a blanket statement meant to convey that the Board follows its message of inclusion, even though their actions of the past few weeks directly oppose this.
As students and alumni, we are upset. We are disappointed. And because we care so deeply about the community many of us were a part of for upwards of 15 years, we are passionate about pushing for change in our school board. Therefore, a group of student leaders who are all alumni of the 5 high schools in the WCDSB, and who all at one point were Co-Presidents or Student Trustees, have joined together to create an organization that will advocate for current youth within the School Board and challenge WCDSB officials to make changes within their system.
Our mission and vision is to garner change within the Waterloo Catholic District School Board to truly create success for each, and a place for all.
Our goals for this organization are as follows:
-Due to heavy school involvement from various LGBTQ+ students, whomst made impactful changes to multiple schools and students in the board, we want the school board to recognize the active existence of LGBTQ+ students and hear from current students and past alumni their thoughts regarding homophobic/transphobic statements and actions within the board.
-We will be doing this by creating a petition for both LGBTQ+ students and alumni as well as allies from not only the board but also the community, and we have also put out a survey asking for testimonials directly from LGBTQ+ alumni and current students.
-We would like the school board to consider and commit to making tangible policy changes, specifically in their division of Equity, Diversity & Learning, in which they will directly make a statement that they will not tolerate discrimination against gender or sexual orientation within their community.
-We want the Waterloo Catholic District School Board to commit to their message of inclusion and declare all of their spaces as safe places for LGBTQ+ staff and students.
-Upon hearing from current students, a way that the school board will show their commitment to this is by choosing to fly the traditional rainbow Pride flag, starting in June 2021 and continuing every year after that.
By signing this petition, you will be supporting The Student P.R.I.D.E. Movement and directly providing a voice to change within the School Board. We are hoping that with the right amount of numbers, we will be able to achieve all of our goals, therefore acknowledging and safeguarding LGBTQ+ staff and students in the Waterloo Catholic District School Board and creating a space of acceptance for all.
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