More than half of the graduating students at Vanier Catholic Secondary School in Whitehorse wore rainbow socks at their cap and gown ceremony this weekend to support their school's gay-straight alliance.

The Grade 12 students lived through months of controversy over the Catholic Episcopal Corporation's policy on homosexuality. The Yukon government ordered the policy removed from the school's website in March 2013.

Rainbow socks at Vanier school graduation

Graduating students at Vanier Catholic Secondary School enter their cap and gown ceremony wearing rainbow socks. (courtesy of Leslie Leong)

Liam Finnegan, a student at Vanier who is gay, says his friend Kate Power was the organizer of the rainbow socks at Saturday's ceremony.

"She wanted to make a statement saying 'We're not a homophobic school' because a lot of people have that perception, so it was a really cool experience to see that," he said.

"I remember my dad telling me afterwards how it was an emotional experience, because it showed my class really supporting me, my cause and just being a really open group of people."

About 45 of the 81 students wore rainbow socks.

The Catholic Episcopal Corporation's policy described homosexuality as "intrinsically disordered" and homosexual acts as a "grave depravity." The Yukon Department of Education told the school a new policy should offer the same rights as other publicly funded schools and conform to statutes, including human rights legislation.

The school eventually adopted a policy that enabled students to start the Vanier Gay-Straight Alliance. It has about 30 members.​

"It's a big difference and it's noticeable," says Finnegan. "Even though it might have just been a few words that changed in the policy, it's given us the chance to start a wonderful  group that's trying to make a huge difference in our school and in our community."

He says it was great to see his classmates demonstrating their support at graduation.


  • A earlier version of this story referred to the "school's official policy on homosexuality." The controversy arose from a church policy posted on the school website.
    Jun 04, 2014 6:49 PM CT