The London District Catholic School Board did not consider a proposal to fly the Pride flag.
“As a group, we have not discussed it. It has not come to the board, and I have not received anything this year requesting we take a look at that,” Linda Steel, the chair of the Catholic board of trustees, told CBC News.
“Often, we take our lead from the community and so far we have not gotten that head-nod from the community. I think anything that the community wants us to discuss, we should have a thoughtful discussion about.”
Mark Adkinson, a spokesperson for the board, said the board receives several requests each year to fly flags to raise awareness about various issues. Its practice is to fly only the Canadian flag, the Ontario flag or the Franco-Ontarian flag. Each school has a “belonging plan” to promote “safe, caring, inclusive and health communities for everyone” he said.
Valeria Zambrano, whom CBC News described as an LGBTQ grade 10 student at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School in London, supported flying the flag.
"It bothers me a lot more now, because I see the flags up, and I think, 'How hard is it to support something that is not bad at all? I don't get it,” Zambrano said.
CBC News previously covered Zambrano in May 2019, reporting that she declared herself a lesbian to her eighth grade class. At the time, Zambrano, aged 13, and about two dozen schoolmates at Notre Dame Catholic Elementary School were planning to wear t-shirts to support students identifying as LGBT, with help from some of their parents. The move was in response to a school board decision not to fly a Pride flag.
The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic School Board’s chair Patrick Daly said that the board would display the Canadian flag and the cross at all its schools, describing these as symbols of inclusion.
“I hope individuals will read the statement which is intended to show our clear commitment - past, current and future - to do all we can to ensure our schools are places where each belong,” Daly said May 30.
However, LGBT activists and their supporters - including the Ontario Parent Action Network - criticized the decision and demand that schools fly the Pride flag. The Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion claimed that the Catholic school board’s decision was perpetuating “violent, discriminatory acts.”
“This is not the time for separation and segregation as this is not a matter of church doctrine, but rather of public morals and human rights,” the Queer Trans Diversity Coalition of Hamilton said. “Raising a flag will not diminish your faith but strengthen it.”
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Two trustees of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board resigned amid a Pride flag controversy, one of them citing the controversy as a contributing factor to his resignation.
“Flying the Pride flag is one aspect of my decision but not the sole concern,” former trustee Kevin Dupuis told CTV News. "This is a separation of a specific group and giving favors to one group only divides the other students.”
He said the board implemented the decision to fly the Pride flag without a vote from trustees, adding that he had sought a referendum on the question. Dupuis said that conversations about the Pride flag “seemed to be one-sided.” While the LGBT advocacy group Spectrum asked to speak to the board, Dupuis thought the board should have asked Right to Life groups and Parents as First Educators to speak as well.
He also objected to an “equity census report” that he thought excessively divided students by race, sex, gender and ethnicity, and was using “an awful lot of identity politics.”
“Everyone on the board including myself would like to see all of our students thrive as individuals, hold their heads high with dignity and be respected,” he said in an email to the Canadian news site Global News. “We just have different approaches on how that should be accomplished.”
Dupuis had criticized “wokeism” in his resignation letter, which he said was related to his concerns about “critical race theory.” He thought a “self-loathing attitude” was being created for students and he worried about an agenda he called “questionable,” he told 570 News. He specifically referred to the board’s statements supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, adding that others believe “all lives matter.”