Anti-Pride flag Niagara Catholic trustee takes 4-month leave


Published September 28, 2023 at 10:56 am

Natalia Benoit
Controversial Niagara Catholic trustee Natalia Benoit, who raised concerns last year by asking that the Pride flag be removed, asked for four-month leave of absence.

A controversial Niagara Catholic District School Board (NCDSB) trustee asked for – and was granted – a four-month leave of absence by the balance of the board.

Trustee Natalia Benoit came under fire in May when she and Niagara Falls trustee Joe Bruzzese put forward a motion to reverse the board’s decision to fly the Pride flag at the school board during the month of June.

While she didn’t compare the two directly, she was caught on camera alluding to a symbol of hatred to present her case against the Pride flag, saying, “Well, any flag at all … Like the Nazi flag, we don’t want that up either, right?”

Her comments instantly stirred up a hornet’s nest within the community.

At the time, NCDSB Director of Education Camillo Cipriano, who was behind the decision to raise the Pride flag, said, “It was disappointing to hear the equivalency made between the Pride flag and the Nazi flag,” said NCDSB Director of Education Camillo Cipriano, who was behind the decision to raise the Pride flag again this year.

“For us, the Pride flag is a symbol of love, of inclusion, and acceptance. The flag that it was referred to is for us a symbol of hate, of prejudice, of intolerance. Again, completely the opposite of what the rainbow flag is presenting for us in Niagara Catholic.”

When the matter of removing the flag came before the NCDSB trustees at their June meeting, it was shot down quickly by the other trustees.

Benoit gave no reason for her leave of absence.

When the NCDSB first decided to raise the Pride flag in May 2021, trustee Larry Huybers, the chair of the last sitting of the trustees, said, “It is not enough to simply tell students and staff who identify as gay, transgender, and non-binary that they are loved and supported. Flying the Pride flag is the most universally accepted, visible show of support for all who identify as 2SLGBTQ+.”

The last sentence in the NCDSB mission statement is quite specific, saying, “Publicly funded education must include/support everyone!”


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