to lift ban on Gay-Straight Alliances
Ontario's Ministry of Education promotes the idea of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA) in Canadian schools. The Ministry encourages GSAs as a tool to fight homophobia. It also recognizes the impact that a GSA can have in building bridges between all students. And yet, despite this, one Catholic School Board just isn't buying it. Welcome to Halton Region!
Personally, I demand a public apology and the resignation of Alice Anne LeMay! ~Mark Daye
The Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) has banned GSAs in their schools. They think they are harmful and have made it a board-wide policy not to let them formulate. According to its website, the school board serves 29,000 students in a variety of suburbs -- Milton, Halton Hills, Burlington, Oakville. And none of those students are taught tolerance.
“We don’t have Nazi groups either,” says Board Chair Alice Anne LeMay, in what might be the most offensive quote I have heard in a long while. “Gay-Straight Alliances are banned because they are not within the teachings of the Catholic Church."
I don't see elementary schools as a place where GSAs get brought up very often, so let's focus on the district's eight high schools. Like every other school board in Ontario, this one has an "Equity and Inclusive Education" policy that is meant to encourage safe spaces for all students, including those with non-heterosexual orientations. The policy encourages GSAs. The school board, however, says that the policy only promotes GSAs as one option against homophobia. What are the other options the HCDSB are offering to deal with the issue? Insert cricket noise here.
“Dialogue groups can achieve the same kinds of objectives, but that have a broader focus on inclusion generally,” says Michael Pautler, the school board's education director. “Or a celebration of diversity, as opposed to focusing on any one particular expression of diversity.”
I don't exactly know what that means. Students can celebrate diversity, but they can't form any sort of organization or club with the word gay in the title? What kind of celebration is that? There is a place for Gay-Straight Alliances in Catholic high schools. Let's let the HCDSB know. Sign the petition here.