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CSA attends Toronto Catholic District School Board Meeting with Motion to Ban Gay Straight Alliances

One of our CSA Officers was at the recent Toronto Catholic District School Board Meeting where a Motion to Ban Gay Straight Alliance student groups was discussed. Here is the report:

I attended the May 23rd Toronto Catholic District School Board regular meeting with four colleagues from the Centre for Inquiry (CFI) and the Canadian Secular Alliance (CSA). We attended the meeting to observe and to hear the arguments for and against the Tanuan-Del Grande motion to challenge the Accepting Schools Act (Bill 13) and ban gay-straight alliances in Toronto Catholic Schools.

The TCDSB Catholic Education Centre (board office) is a monument to Catholicism. The objection to Catholic funding should start with the cost of decorating Catholic schools and offices with crosses (crucifixes) and other symbols and slogans promoting Catholicism.

The bare bones of the result of the meeting are available in the Star, in the Globe and Mail: and in the Catholic Register. However, articles don’t describe how charged the atmosphere was.

The trustees were in disagreement about whether to ban GSAs but were not in disagreement about the primacy of the tenets of Catholicism in education. There was lots of talk about chastity, love (spiritual not physical), compassion and the authority of the RCC in Ontario and Canada. One trustee, John Del Grande, in answer to other trustees who asked why Thomas Cardinal Collins was not in attendance, referred to a Canon law that generally says it’s up to the lay members of the Catholic community to deal with institutional issues and political fights. Collins may have decided to let the members of the TCDSB and the Catholic community to deal with the motion; however, there doesn’t seem to be a Canon forbidding Collins’ attendance at Catholic school board meetings.

The vote (7 to 4 against the motion) was not a secular victory. Allowing a group of people to discuss GSAs or LGBT issues from a religious point of view in opposition to the Canadian and Ontario Human Rights Codes is an aberration. The whole meeting was disgusting. The speakers, with the exception of Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, the Equality Program Director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, included prayer, Jesus and Catholicism in their arguments, in a meeting in a building paid for by Ontario taxpayers.

Representatives from Canadian Atheist and Xtra! attended the TCDSB May 23 meeting and posted articles online. The Xtra! article has pictures and a video!