Canadian parents push back against gay pride flag in Catholic school district; police called

Pride flag Unsplash

Police were called to maintain order at a Catholic school board meeting in Ontario, Canada, during a discussion about whether the board should fly a gay pride flag at its central office throughout June to support gay pride month.

The York Catholic District School Board met Tuesday night to consider the proposal. After hearing two delegations on the proposal and facing disruptions from frustrated Catholic parents, the board did not vote on the initiative. 

“The York Catholic District School Board is involved in ongoing conversations with a number of stakeholders about whether or not to fly the Progress Pride Flag at their central office in June,” a statement from the board read. 

“There was no motion on the table last night for voting and there has not yet been a decision on flying the Pride Flag at the YCDSB,” the statement continued. “The York Catholic District School Board is committed to our Catholic faith and to the well-being of our students and staff. The YCDSB believes that 2SLGTBQ+ students are loved by God and are valued members of our school communities.”

Some parents who objected to displaying the gay pride flag loudly disrupted the meeting and shouted down the first speaker. After security removed some of the parents from the meeting room, many continued to vocally protest the proposal from the lobby. 

About two dozen parents verbally confronted supporters of the pride flag outside the meeting, chanting “shame” in unison and suggesting a lack of fidelity to Catholic teaching. One parent was heard yelling “the devil incarnate,” although it was unclear to whom it was directed, and another parent called supporters a “disgrace.”

Police eventually arrived at the board meeting, at which point many of the parents left. There were no arrests, nor were there any reports of violence, property damage, or physical injuries.

“Many members of the public … remained in the atrium of the board office, where the situation required the police to attend to ensure the safety of all members of the public,” the board’s statement read. 

“When the police arrived, many individuals left the board office without being asked to do so,” the statement continued. “The York Catholic District School Board monitors for any possible disruption that could happen before a board meeting and works proactively with security and the police to ensure the safety of all those who attend our meetings.” 

The board represents 85 Catholic elementary schools and 16 Catholic secondary schools across nine municipalities in Southern Ontario, which serve about 50,000 students combined. In Ontario, Catholic schools are publicly funded and local decisions are made by a Catholic school board rather than the Catholic diocese.

This is the second month in a row that police were called to a York Catholic District School Board meeting. In March, police showed up after some parents caused loud disruptions while voicing their opposition to the creation of safe spaces for students who identify as 2SLGTBQ+. 

There are 37 Catholic school districts in Ontario. Last June, more than 80% of them publicly promoted some form of LGBT pride, which sometimes included the display of gay pride flags.

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