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Sunday, January 16, 2011

UPDATE- Fight Against Halton Catholic District School Board's Ban on Gay Straight Alliances

Update -

Trustees vote to lift ban on gay student groups

New inclusion policy to be drafted-
Trustees voted Tuesday night to repeal a ban on gay student groups implemented in the fall by the Halton Catholic District School Board. It was the first time the board met after the ban prompted international attention including from Perez Hilton.
“We as students are asked to be chaste so sexual activity at this point, whether heterosexual or homosexual, should really be moot,” trustee and grade 11 student, Clarisse Schneider, told the board. The ban had been implemented by the previous school board, after new trustees were elected but before they officially took their posts.
Despite a new policy in Ontario demanding schools devise inclusion policies that permit gay student groups, the old board was apparently acting on the advice from the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario that had sent a letter warning that gay student groups “imply a self-identification with sexual orientation that is often premature among high school students.”
Trustees voted 6-2 to recommend lifting the ban while a new inclusion policy is drafted, but the entire board has yet to be consulted on the vote.

The Halton Catholic District School Board recently introduced its new Equity and Inclusive Education Policy. Audaciously, the word 'homophobia' is absent from the entire document and the only reference to Halton's LGBTQ student community cites that gay-straight alliances "cannot be permitted". The HCDSB needs to realize that simply because something is absent from a document does not mean that it is absent in reality.

Despite the fact that up to 30% of LGBTQ youth attempt suicide due to discrimination, bullying and homophobia, the HCDSB is denying their students the opportunity to participate in a safe, welcoming community. The banning of GSA's hurts both gay and straight people alike; just as our LGBTQ students have the right to a safe space that validates their identity, straight students have the right to learn how to counteract prejudice and become allies.

I strongly believe that fifty years from now, people will look back on this decision with the same disgust we experience when remembering Jim Crow education in the United States. This video is a way for those of us outraged by this decision to actually do something about it. Sign the petition, read the links and articles posted here, call the HCDSB, start a GSA in your school if you are a teacher - get the message out! We know we have the power to make this happen, so please send this to your friends, families, colleagues, students...EVERYONE!

Ultimately, the only thing needed for the HCDSB to succeed is for you to do nothing. Remember- we're stronger together.

Join the facebook page "Fight Against the Halton Catholic School Board's ban on Gay Straight Alliances" for info on picketing at the next board meeting, on January 18, 2011!

The Petition:

HCDSB Equity and Inclusive Education Policy

Xtra's announcement of the ban:

HCDSB's Reaction to the Nazi criticisms:

Ontario Human Rights Code:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:


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