Toronto

Toronto Catholic schools will raise Pride flag for 1st time next month

The Toronto Catholic District School Board says it will celebrate Pride Month every June, starting this year.

The board's trustees voted in favour of proclaiming Pride Month on Thursday night

Toronto Catholic school board voted to recognize Pride Month for the first time. (John Robertson/CBC)

The Toronto Catholic District School Board says it will celebrate Pride Month every June, starting this year, marking a victory for the LGBTQ community. 

The board's trustees voted in favour of flying rainbow flags outside its office and all of its schools on Thursday night, after hearing from former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne.

A member of the LGBTQ and Christian communities, Wynne urged trustees to join Thunder Bay and Waterloo's Catholic boards in sending a "clear signal" of inclusiveness by formally proclaiming Pride month. 

"Your position as the largest Catholic School Board in the province is one that I think comes with the responsibility to play a leadership role especially when it comes to those issues that continue to divide the Catholic community," Wynne said. 

WATCH | Toronto Catholic schools will raise Pride flag for 1st time next month:

Toronto Catholic District School Board votes to raise Pride flag in June

1 month ago
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The Toronto Catholic District School Board voted in favour of proclaiming Pride Month every June, starting this year, during a marathon meeting Thursday night. Nick Boisvert has more on the school board’s decision — and why students hope it’s a sign of more changes to come. 2:23

The school board said in a statement this "important step" demonstrates its commitment to fostering safe and welcoming places for LGBTQ students and staff.

While more advocacy work needs to be done for LGBTQ students, the board's support is a step in the right direction,  student trustee Keith Baybayon told CBC News.

"Knowing that the board recognizes Pride Month and will fly the Pride flag is just so encouraging for students like me because it feels like we're being included in the conversations and thought about," he said. 

Kathy Nguyen, also a student trustee, said she hopes the victory will have a "ripple effect" and inspire other school boards to follow Toronto's lead. 

The decision comes 10 days after the Halton Catholic District School Board voted against flying the rainbow flag or recognizing Pride Month. In response, all nine Catholic high schools in Halton Region posted a rainbow-themed message of support to LGBTQ students and parents.

Pride Month honours the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City, a rallying point for the LGBTQ community. The rainbow flag was created 10 years later and is the most globally recognized symbol of LGTBQ equality and acceptable, said Toronto Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, chair of the city's LGBTQ+ advisory committee, who spoke as a delegate at the meeting.

"By raising the rainbow flag and proclaiming pride month, the TCDSB will be joining the City of Toronto, the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada proclaiming that your schools are safe; that they are inclusive, vibrant communities," she said. 

Waterloo's Catholic school board decided in April it would fly the Pride flag for the first time.

Last year it faced criticism for choosing not to fly the traditional Pride flag, but rather one of its own design, which showed multicoloured figures looking up at a figure of Jesus with the words, "We are all wonderfully made — we love because he first loved us." After community backlash, the board decided to not fly any flag in 2020. 

With files from Nicholas Boisvert

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