Protest anticipated at Niagara Catholic trustees meeting over Pride-flag motion

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Published June 20, 2023 at 10:04 am

Pride Burlington fest drag queen

Very often a trustees’ meeting can expect a packed house depending on the issues being debated. However, tonight’s (June 20) Niagara Catholic District School Board trustee meeting can anticipate a full parking lot.

On the agenda tonight is the controversial motion by trustees Natalia Benoit and Joe Bruzzese to reverse the board’s 2021 decision to fly the Pride flag through the month of June.

Their motion is not expected to pass as it seems to have little support from the remaining six trustees, including the chair of the board, Danny Di Lorenzo, who has already indicated he has no interest in reversing the policy.

Benoit and Bruzzese were both supported at election time in October 2022 by the “Vote Against Woke” parents group.

The motion is specifically looking to ban all but political, school board, or catholic flags at the board facilities, including the 56 schools within the board.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) won’t be backing their efforts either as OECTA president Barb Dobrowolski recently denounced any movement towards removing the Pride flag on either school or school board properties.

“Catholic teachers add the strength of our voice to urge all Catholic school boards to fly the Pride flag,” said Dobrowolski.

“Displaying the Pride flag outside our schools is a visual representation and indication to students, educators, families – everyone – of our commitment to promote respect, human rights and a culture in our schools that celebrates diversity and contributes to create a more inclusive society.”

Trustee Larry Huybers, the chair of the 2018-2022 sitting of the trustees, said in May 2021 when the group adopted the Pride flag policy, “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!”

Elsewhere in Ontario, York Catholic District School Board voted against flying the pride flag at its Catholic Education Centre in June after months of angry debate that often involved the police showing up for meetings.

Thus far, the Niagara Police have not indicated whether they’ll be at tonight’s meeting. Last week, there was an anti-Pride protest in the NCDSB parking lot that was quickly offset by pro-Pride counter-protestors. There were no incidents at that protest.

 

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