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.
petition text -
Lift the ban on Gay-Straight Alliances in your schools
I am writing to ask you to please consider lifting the ban on Gay-Straight Alliances in Catholic schools in the Halton Region.
As you are likely aware, the Ministry of Education promotes Gay-Straight Alliances as effective tools in eradicated homophobia and building connections between all students. The province of Ontario is committed to educating the public and supporting all youth, including those that are not heterosexual. It is a shame that you are showing your students that some are less worthy based on something that is an ingrained trait. Your policy is homophobic, offensive and un-Canadian.
I urge you to lift your school board's ban on Gay-Straight Alliance. Take a stance on anti-gay bullying and equality for all the students you serve.
[Your name here]