Two Niagara Catholic trustees want Pride flag policy reversed


Published May 26, 2023 at 1:59 pm

Two newly-elected Niagara Catholic District School Board trustees tried to get the board to abandon the Pride flag initiative that it adopted back in June 2021.

Both Natalia Benoit and Joe Bruzzese pushed to have the policy reversed at the May 23 meeting, claiming that it was pushing a specific ideology onto students and administration.

However, since the matter was not on the agenda, it won’t be discussed until the June 20 NCDSB trustees meeting. That said, the numbers are not there as only the pair have opposed the flag policy on the eight-trustee board and the chair of the board, Danny Di Lorenzo, has already indicated he has no interest in reversing the policy.

Benoit, who represents St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Bruzzese, who represents Niagara Falls, were two of the candidates supported at election time in October by the “Vote Against Woke” parents group.

The group endorsed eight NCDSB candidates, including Benoit and Bruzzese. Contrary to the dictionary’s definition of “woke,” meaning someone who is aware of and attentive to issues of racial prejudice and social justice, the “Vote Against Woke” group defined “woke” instead as “a pejorative term to describe extremists who extrapolate these well-intentioned principles in a radically ill-advised manner.”

They also suggested woke people are cultish and “are communicated using academic jargon densely cluttered with newly conceived acronyms” such as BIPOC and 2SLGBTQQIA+.

Trustee Larry Huybers, the chair of the last 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!”

By the time the next meeting convenes, the Pride flag will have already flown June 1 to 6 during Pride Week.

Below, Benoit talks to some of her supporters outside the chambers after her motion got deferred until June.

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