Vote to fly Pride flag at Oakville, Burlington Catholic schools attracting outside groups

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Published January 10, 2022 at 2:26 pm

The Halton Catholic District School Board is set to vote on Trustee Brenda Agnew's "Strengthening Community Relations" motion at the Board's next meeting on Jan. 18. PEXELS PHOTO

A new proposed motion to fly the Pride flag at Oakville, Burlington, Milton and Halton Hills catholic high schools is drawing attention from outside groups looking to stop it.

Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) Trustee Brenda Agnew’s “Strengthening Community Relations” motion is set to be voted on at the Board’s next meeting on Jan. 18.

The recently elected HCDSB vice-chair’s motion looks to create a more inclusive environment at schools for those who identify as 2SLGBTQ+ and provide mandatory training for staff on loving and accompanying those students.

But the upcoming vote is drawing interest from social conservative groups like the Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) and Parents As First Educators (PAFE).

Halton Parents for Change (HPFC), a group of local parents whose stated goal they say is to fight for equity, inclusion and acceptance as well as accountability for the HCDSB Board, released emails they say these groups are sending to local parents ahead of the Jan. 18 vote.

“We need your help to protect students from immoral secular influences,” reads the email from CLC.

“The LGBT lobby and its accomplices at the HCDSB are pushing full steam ahead to make sure that the Gay Pride flag flies over the board’s Catholic schools this coming June,” the CLC email continues. “The LGBT lobby didn’t succeed at accomplishing this last year, despite their massive efforts.

“And we don’t want them to succeed this year.”

Emails sent to local HCDSB parents by PAFE were looking for those willing to speak at the upcoming meeting.

“PAFE is looking for people who are willing to speak as delegates at the Jan. 18 Board meeting on two topics,” the email read. “The deadline to file your application is this Tues., Jan. 11 by 5 p.m.”

Halton Parents for Change said the pressure from outside groups happened last year as well and led to the hateful delegations and letters they saw last spring.

“These same groups fund and back trustees who support their agenda, mobilizing followers leading to their election,” HPFC said on Twitter.

“It’s more important than ever that we stand up to these groups seeking to influence our board from outside Halton and push their agenda.”

Halton Parents for Change sent its own letter to HCDSB Trustees asking them to vote in support for the motion.

“We represent a diverse community of staff, students, parents, and community members who believe that flying the Pride flag and working to create a more inclusive environment for those who identify as 2SLGBTQ+ is in the best interest of the entire HCDSB community,” HPFC wrote in the letter. “Your HCDSB community sent a clear message of support for flying the Pride flag last year. Last year’s debate caused harm to the 2SLGBTQ+ members of the HCDSB community.

“Those students and staff heard terrible, hateful things said about them and their families, and the final vote against flying the flag sent a clear message that the board felt the 2SLGBTQ+ students, staff, and families did not belong in our school community.”
After the HCDSB voted against flying the Pride flag last April, community schools rallied with 54 of them posting messages of support along with rainbow coloured posters, logos and graphics.

Several other Catholic school boards in the province did allow the Pride flag to fly, including Toronto, Dufferin-Peel, Waterloo, Niagara and Ottawa.

HPFC says the only acceptable course of action is for the Pride Flag to fly at every HCDSB school and the CEC.

“Choose love. Fly the flag,” the HPFC said in completing the letter to Board Trustees.

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