Hamilton Catholic school board won't raise Pride flags in June

The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB) won't raise the rainbow Pride flag at its schools in June.

HWCDSB chair Pat Daly says the Canadian flag, cross symbolize unity and are at every school

A rainbow flag blows in the wind.
The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB) says it won't raise the rainbow Pride flag at its schools in June, but the city's public school board has said it will. (Eduardo Lima/The Canadian Press)

The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB) won't raise the rainbow Pride flag at its schools in June.

The decision comes after multiple Catholic boards in Ontario — including those in Niagara, Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo, Durham, Wellington and Dufferin-Peel — voted in recent weeks to do the opposite.

HWCDSB chair Pat Daly said in an interview on Sunday evening the decision to not raise the Pride flag doesn't mean the board is against LGBTQ+ communities. Instead, he points to the Canadian flag and the cross.

"We have had in place a policy where the administrative buildings and schools would only fly the national Canadian flag as a sign of unity," he said.

The cross is "obviously the most important symbol of our Catholic Christian faith, and the, for us, sign of love and inclusivity, which is displayed in the interior of every one of our schools."

HWCDSB chair Pat Daly says the board supports all students. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

A board statement points to its model of education, which maintains "each person, without exception, is a gift from God. When each belongs, we all belong."

The statement also mentions HWCSB's committees on anti-bullying and anti-racism, and emphasizes the board doesn't tolerate bullying.

"I hope individuals will read the statement which is intended to show our clear commitment — past, current and future — to do all we can to ensure our schools are places where each belong," said Daly.

Hamilton public school flying Pride flag at schools

For the first time ever, Hamilton's public school board will fly the rainbow Pride flag at all its schools in June for Pride Month.

"Unfortunately, many students and family members who identify as Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+ do not always feel safe at school or in our communities," read a statement from the school board.

"By raising the flag, HWDSB schools can symbolize their solidarity with the Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+ communities, while highlighting the important work to be done on human rights, equity, and inclusion."

The school board said students will learn about various genders and sexual orientations, as well as other equity-seeking communities in "age-appropriate ways."

The flags will start flying on Thursday.


Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.