Toronto

TCDSB says trustee who likened LGBTQ issues to bestiality did not breach code of conduct

The Toronto Catholic District School Board trustee who sparked controversy when he compared LGBTQ issues to bestiality and pedophilia has been found not to have breached the trustee code of conduct.

Comments made by Michael Del Grande this past November led to formal complaints

The Toronto Catholic District School Board trustees voted last week that Trustee Michael Del Grande did not breach their code of conduct. (Toronto Catholic District School Board)

The Toronto Catholic District School Board trustee who sparked controversy when he compared LGBTQ issues to bestiality and pedophilia has been found not to have breached the trustee code of conduct. 

Michael Del Grande's comments were made late last year, as the board met to debate an update to its code of conduct that would see terms like gender identity and gender expression. 

In response, Del Grande moved an amendment, asking for other terms to be added to that list, including bestiality, pedophilia, cannibalism, auto-erotic asphyxiation and "auto-vampirism."

"I'd like all these terms to be considered — after all, everybody's concerned [that] the right terms are used, it's important to have the terms," Del Grande said at the Nov. 7 meeting.

The amendment was withdrawn, and Del Grande later told CBC Toronto that what he said was "hyperbole" and that he wasn't being serious.  

Last week — a full 10 months since the original incident — TCDSB trustees decided at a public meeting that Del Grande had not breached the trustee code of conduct with his statements. 

"Based on the Board's vote, this means there will be no consequences," said a TCDSB spokesperson in an email statement.

Del Grande did not respond to CBC Toronto's request for comment on the board's decision.

Teacher says board has 'systemic' issues with homophobia 

Paolo de Buono, an elementary teacher at the board, has been a vocal critic of Del Grande and the lack of response from other trustees since November. 

He said shock was his first reaction to last week's decision, followed by a kind of grim acceptance. 

"I have to conclude that there are very serious issues of systemic homophobia and systemic transphobia … to the point where we need help," he said.

De Buono compared his board's struggle with homophobia and transphobia with the Peel District School Board's issues with anti-Black racism. 

"[In Peel] it was so serious and so beyond its ability to deal with itself, that it required the intervention of the minister of education and the ministry," he said.

That's where we're at." 

Comments led to complaints, petition

In the weeks after Del Grande's comments, an online petition called for his removal. The TCDSB also received angry calls and emails from parents and 'numerous' formal complaints.   

Toronto Mayor John Tory weighed in at the time, saying Del Grande was exhibiting "dinosaur-like" behaviour.

In December, the board opted not to publicly denounce what Del Grande had said, though some trustees had supported doing so.

In that same period, trustees did vote to handle future code of conduct complaints in public rather than in private, with specific exceptions, and to hire an independent integrity commissioner.

The TCDSB confirmed to CBC Toronto this week that an integrity commissioner has been hired "to develop and revise the Trustee Code of Conduct and a process for the efficient resolution and investigation of Trustee Code of Conduct complaints."

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