Hamilton’s Catholic schools will fly rainbow Pride flag for first time ever

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Published March 2, 2022 at 12:39 pm

Hamilton's Catholic schools will fly rainbow Pride flag for first time ever
The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board voted in favour of flying the Pride flag in June 2022 for the first time ever as a show of support.

For the first time ever, Hamilton’s Catholic schools will fly the rainbow flag in honour of Pride Month this June.

The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB) voted in favour of the motion by trustee Mark Valvasori — after deciding against flying the flag in support of the 2SLGBTQ+ community last year.

“I present this motion with a full understanding of just how polarizing this issue has become as a school board,” said Valvasori. “I want to say at the outset — very simply — that the motion is all about the kids.”

Valvasori explained to the board that, while he respects the religious convictions of those who oppose the flag being displayed at Catholic schools, the homophobic emails and calls he received from members of the community actually led him to introduce the motion in the first place.

“What bothered me most was the tone and content from those who opposed the flying of the Pride flag,” he explained. “I won’t get into the details, but I need to say that the language was often repulsive and the adjectives describing the 2SLGBTQ+ (community) were insulting — and to be perfectly honest, sometimes our own Catholic catechism uses descriptors that could upset many people — especially kids.”

Valvasori called for empathy from members of the school board.

“Imagine for a second that a young student at a Catholic school, who is struggling to reconcile their own feelings about their sexuality with their Catholicity; they may need support,” he continued. “Then (the student) hears or reads about what should happen to them if they reveal their (sexuality) — discussions about flag flying tend to bring about those who demonize them — using terms that may actually frighten them.”

“So this motion is not meant as condemnation or support of either side of this issue,” said Valvasori. “It’s strictly for the kids. We can’t forget about students and we can’t forget about our staff.”

Valvasoli added that he hopes to live long enough to see that sexuality is no longer divisive. But in the meantime, he asked the board to “show some love and acceptance by simply flying the Pride Flag in June.”

Last year, HWCDSB chair Pat Daly defended the board’s decision not to raise the Pride flag by suggesting the Canadian flag is a sign of unity and represents all community members.

Deirdre Pike is a prominent 2SLGBTQ+ activist and social planner in Hamilton. As a self-proclaimed “Queer Catholic,” Pike applauded the board’s decision.

“I am happy to learn the ⁦⁦(HWCDSB)⁩ has voted in favour to fly the rainbow flag this June! Thank you for this wise decision that will give hope to (2SLGBTQ+) students! One step of many that are needed but this is the beginning of good movement!” tweeted Pike.

“Rainbow flags do far more than add beautiful ribbons of colour to the skyline,” Pike tells inTheHammer. “They are instrumental signs of commitment to inclusion for queer, trans, and gender diverse students, teachers, education workers, parents, and the community at large.”

“At the same time, the move is incremental,” she added.

It’s now up to the Catholic board’s director of education to make the necessary arrangements to facilitate flying the rainbow flag at schools and certain HWCDSB administrative buildings during each month of June, beginning this year.

Hamilton’s public school board voted in favour of flying the Pride flag last June for the first time.

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