Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board bans Pride flag in 6-3 vote

Mississauga, Ontario – 

A crowd of concerned parents packed the atrium of the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB) office June 11 to persuade trustees not to raise the Pride flag outside board schools. Though their hopes appeared dim at the beginning of the meeting, a complete turnaround in their fortunes saw Trustees vote 6-3 against the Pride flag by the end of the evening.

“The defeat of the Pride flag in the DPCDSB was a surprising breakthrough for parental rights in Ontario,” said Parents As First Educators (PAFE) President, Teresa Pierre after the vote. “It just shows that the tide is turning against allowing schools to be places of political indoctrination rather than learning.”

Trustees voted to require the national flag on the main flagpole at any board property, and if there are two or more the provincial flag and a liturgical flag must fly on those poles.

“The board did the right thing in supporting only flags that are unifying for all board students,” said Pierre afterward.

The reason that expectations were low at the outset was because in April trustees had approved a policy to bar the Pride flag from flying outside its properties, but Trustee Brea Corbet – who had been absent from the April meetings– rallied the troops among the trustees and stampeded an amendment to allow the flag through at a June 4 committee meeting. Trustees Herman Viloria and Paula Dametto-Giovannazzi were the only two trustees opposed.

As the meeting opened on June 11 Trustees Viloria and Dametto-Giovannazzi made the case that the amendment from Corbet had not been properly introduced and that it should not be on the evening’s agenda, and challenged the idea that the decision to fly the flag merited a special meeting. The Director of Education said in response that Trustee Corbet made a convincing argument that not flying the flag could harm a protected minority group, despite Herman Vilorio’s objections. A vote not to approve the agenda was lost 7-2.

Next 5 delegations -all against raising the flag- appealed to trustees not to fly the Pride flag. Campaign Life Coalition’s Education spokesperson, Josie Luetke quoted from the church ministry Courage, which supports LGBT folks in living chastely, to the effect that enabling people to persist in sinful choices limits their freedom rather than liberating them.

Speaking on behalf of PAFE, President Teresa Pierre elaborated further on why the motion from Trustee Corbet rashly overturned a board proposal that had been months in the making. I pleaded with the board to remember that back in 2021 Cardinal Collins had instructed board chairs that the cross is the only symbol Catholic schools need to express their commitment to inclusion and that parents rightfully expect Catholic schools to deliver messaging that is clearly and authentically Catholic. Watch the delegation here.

Asked during question period to explain more about the statement from Cardinal Collins from 2021, Pierre quoted extensively from the statement, including this:

“In that regard, the appropriate symbol that represents our faith, and the inclusion and acceptance of others, is the cross, which is visible at the entrance of every Catholic school. It is the primary symbol of our Christian faith: it draws us to contemplate the generous and sacrificial love of Jesus, as he lays down his life for all of us. In a world that would crucify an innocent man, Jesus returns love for hatred and says: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) The love represented by the cross is that sacrificial love, centered not on self, but on others. The cross outside of Catholic schools and any Catholic church, hospital or institution, signals our commitment that all who enter the building are welcomed and loved in their beauty and uniqueness as children of God.”

Gregory Tomchyshyn from CitizenGo presented over 15,000 signatures on a petition against flying the flag.

Two other delegates said that in their experience Catholic students and staff were being bullied in their own schools because of their beliefs on LGBTQ+ topics, and that it is time the board returned to more strongly supporting central Catholic teachings.

None of the delegates besides PAFE President Teresa Pierre received any questions from Trustees so it was difficult to gauge the Trustees reactions to the presentations. Then, suddenly, just as trustees were preparing to vote on the question of whether the board should allow other flags than the national and church flags (which would have included the Pride flag) there was a sudden glimmer of hope. T

Trustee Darryl D’Souza indicated he would be willing to put forward a motion to make it mandatory to fly the provincial flag on all 2nd flagpoles at the board. The Director advised that they had to complete the vote on flying “other” flags before taking up the second question and said that regardless of the former vote’s outcome, they could still take up the new motion afterward.

With things suddenly looking up, parents waited breathlessly as Trustees Viloria and Dametto-Giovannazzi gave final spirited defences of how the Pride flag was chilling Catholic speech in the schools, including testimony from dissatisfied teachers. Vilorio also made the point that flying the flag undercuts public perceptions about what the Catholic Church teaches on sexual morality and human identity.

Then the other shoe dropped. As the trustees stood for a recorded vote only three trustees stood up for flying the Pride flag – Trustees Brea Corbet, Bruno Iannica and Mario Pascucci. Six trustees voted against: Trustees Paula Dametto-Giovannazzi, Herman Viloria, Luz del Rosario (chair), Darryl d’Souza, Anisha Thomas and Thomas Thomas. Absent were Shawn Xaviour and Stefano Pascucci.

Trustee D’Souza swiftly introduced his motion to require the provincial flag to be flown on the 2nd flagpole. Trustee Vilorio tried unsuccessfully to change the wording to say that the provincial flag should be the only flag that could be flown on the 2nd flagpole, which would have added an extra level of protection, but was brushed off by the Director of Education. Bruno Iannica tweaked the wording further to say that liturgical flags would be assigned to the 3rd flagpole. The motion passed unanimously.

Said Pierre, “PAFE offers a very heartfelt thank you to all the supporters who wrote to Trustees and the many who attended the meeting. You successfully drove home the message that a broad opposition to the flag exists among local supporters and Catholic groups. Thanks also go to the delegates and Trustees Dametto and Viloria who exposed the degree to which the flag has chipped away at the schools’ Catholic identity.

The job will be complete when the flag comes down from the interiors of schools as well, which the policy still allows.”



Watch Teresa Pierre's delegation speech here

About Parents as First Educators

Parents as First Educators (PAFE) supports the authority of parents over the education of their children through grassroots activism. PAFE monitors and intervenes to ensure elected politicians keep their activities transparent and accountable to the public. We inform and mobilize over 80,000 supporters throughout Canada.  News from Parents as First Educators is available online at pafe.ca, and on social at @pafe4 (X), @parentsasfirsteducators (Instagram), and facebook.com/pafe4 (Facebook).



Teresa Pierre, Ph.D., President
(416) 763-7233
[email protected]

Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Teresa Pierre
    published this page in BLOG 2024-06-13 16:26:12 -0400