Nfld. & Labrador

Suspension of school LGBT club meetings sends 'scary message,' says NDP education critic

Meetings of the gay-straight alliance at École des Grands-Vents in St. John’s have been suspended, and the situation isn’t sitting well with NDP education critic Jim Dinn. 

School board spokesperson says the club needs better framework before activities resume

St. John's Centre MHA Jim Dinn is the NDP's education critic. (Patrick Butler/CBC)

The provincial NDP's education critic is slamming the French school board's decision to suspend meetings for a gay-straight alliance at a St. John's school.

Jim Dinn says he's concerned about the message that's being sent to LGBT youth at École des Grands-Vents by a suspension.

"It could send a scary message [to young people] that they shouldn't be here, that they are not safe," said Dinn on Friday. "If the creation of the club sends one message, the suspension of the club sends another."

Daniel Taïeb, communications manager for the Conseil scolaire francophone provincial, said the club still exists, but meetings have been put on hold so the board could establish a better framework before the club resumes activities.

Taïeb said the club was created at the start of the last school year at the request of students to offer them an inclusive and safe space in which they can express themselves freely. He did not provide any more details on what led to the suspension of the meetings.

Education Minister Tom Osborne. (Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada)

In a statement, Education Minister Tom Osborne, who said he learned of the situation last week, said the club's activities were put on hold because the group didn't have specific guidelines in place, and the school's intention is to work with the club to establish a framework so that activities can resume in September.

"We hope that its activities can continue without interruption," said Osborne. "The goal of a gay-straight alliance is to create a safe environment where 2SLGBTQQIA+ students and their allies can work together to make their school more welcoming to other members of the community, regardless of their sexual orientation or identity. "

Osborne noted École des Grands-Vents displays the Pride flag and has planned several activities to mark Pride Month.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Patrick Butler