Will Gay Pride flag fly at Catholic schools in Burlington, Oakville and Milton?
The decision on raising the Pride flag at Catholic schools in Oakville, Burlington and Milton will have to wait.
After almost three hours of spirited discussion on Tuesday night, the Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) adjourned the meeting before trustees could vote on raising the rainbow flag at local schools in June.
The motion, put forth by Burlington Trustee Brenda Agnew and aimed at promoting LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the schools, will be discussed at a further date.
The controversial issue has created plenty of interest, with more than 400 viewers tuning into the virtual meeting last night. The HCDSB also received more than 200 letters and hundreds of emails.
Nicole Hotchkiss, a Grade 12 student at St. Ignatius of Loyola Secondary School in Oakville, initially brought up the proposal to fly the flag and post Safe Space posters at a board meeting back on April 6.
Emily R., who has a 13-year-old daughter who identifies as LGBTQ+ at a Halton Catholic school, was asked at the meeting what it would mean for her child to have the flag flown at her school.
“It shows love and tolerance,” Emily said. “It shows that here we are as a community, as the Catholic school board saying, ‘We see you.’ This whole process was brought forth by a student as, ‘Hey, I want to feel recognized and this is how I feel validated.’
“I know that would be important to (my daughter).”
Some opponents of the motion maintained that it goes against Catholic teachings and would say that the schools condone same same-sex marriages.
Father Janusz Roginski of Burlington’s St. Gabriel Roman Catholic Church said same-sex marriages are “sinful by nature.”
He also added the Pride flag stands for “immoral behaviours.”
Emily, though, pointed out how LGBTQ+ students are vulnerable to religious groups bullying them.
“There are individuals that will use the bible and they will use scriptures from the bible to be unfair to the human rights of others,” she said during the meeting. “I just think that’s not right, that’s bullying. There’s so many things in scripture that condemn homosexuals and the scriptures were written for very different reasons that people are using them for today.
“I just think it’s important that we interpret these things in the bible using compassion and love as our guide as Christ would ask us to do.”
Supporters of the motion believe flying the flag would be a good first step towards ensuring inclusion for all students, especially those who identify as LGBTQ+.
“We are to be there for every single human being,” said Michela Vitella Bodnar, a teacher at Oakville’s St. Thomas of Aquinas Catholic Secondary School. “We are created in the image and likeness of God. God didn’t make any mistakes, so when we look at every human being we are there, as parents, as teachers, as people of faith, to ensure that every single human and all the diversities are accepted.”
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