York Catholic District School Board votes against Pride Flag for 2023!

After months of parental complaints about a proposal to raise the Pride flag, the York Catholic District School Board voted it down Monday, May 29, 2023 in a vote of 6-4.

Tensions were high going into the Monday meeting, as the executive committee had cancelled all delegations (speakers) on the topic, including gender ideologist and NDP MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam, Toronto Centre, and TCDSB trustee Markus DeDomenico.

York Catholic Board Chair Frank Alexander told reporters Tuesday morning that the board had already heard from many speakers about whether to fly the flag in the previous months, according to Codi Wilson of CP24.  The executive committee had also decided that the report of the flag and symbols subcommittee of the “Gender, sexuality and Catholic education committee” would not come with any recommendations, but as it was published in the Monday agenda, the committee did contain recommendations, including to fly the Pride flag.

Teresa Pierre

I was among the spectators on the second floor. The main floor of the lower gallery was packed with people wearing rainbow paraphernalia, while a substantial number of parents opposing the flag were interspersed with them. We composed the majority of onlookers in the upper gallery.

First floor gallery, photo City News

I spoke with PAFE supporters at the meeting, who were pleased with – and somewhat shocked by – the outcome.  They stated they hoped this indicated a political shift toward recognition that the flag is politicizing, sexualizing and dividing children.

The proposal to fly the flag at the Catholic Education Centre, but not at board schools, was tabled by student trustees and introduced in a motion from Trustee Elizabeth Crowe (Aurora / King / Whitchurch-Stouffville).

Trustees spoke on the topic in succession, starting with Michaela Barbieri (Vaughan), who was one of a number of trustees who stated that the way to solve bullying against LGBTQ+ members of the community did not start with a falg. “Much more” than that was needed to support these students, she said.  She also stated the flag has sown division in the community and she would not vote in favor of furthering division. In other words, she would be voting “no” to raising the Pride flag this year.

Trustee Joseph Dimeo (Richmond Hill) also stated his agreement that a vote to raise the flag would be merely “checking a box” rather than offering students meaningful help.

Trustee Maria Iafrate (Richmond Hill) referred to being guided by her faith, saying "Jesus gives us his vision ... he tells us to love everyone and treat them with respect and kindness. We all stand with the cross."

Chair Frank Alexander (Markhamsaid that he opposed the flag since he believed he was elected to represent Catholic ratepayers and that he always stands firm on the foundation of his faith.

Voting against raising the Pride Flag were Trustees Michaela Barbieri, Joseph Dimeo, Maria Iafrate, Frank Alexander, Angela Saggese (Vaughan), and Theresa McNicol (East Gwillimbury / Georgina / Newmarket). Voting in favour were Trustees Elizabeth Crowe, Carol Cotton (Markham), Jennifer Wigston (Vaughan), and Angela Grella (Vaughan). 

Chair Frank Alexander on May 29 board meeting, photo CityNews

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Mr. Alexander expanded on his reasoning, saying that the highest levels of church authorities had advised against flying the Pride flag, according to Codi Wilson of CP24. 

“Archbishop Collins has advised against raising the flag. We had an archbishop from London recently advising against raising the flag because it doesn’t align with our Catholic values and that is fundamentally why I voted against it,” he said.

The York Catholic school board joins two Ontario municipalities – thus far-  who voted AGAINST allowing the rainbow flag to be raised this year: Norwich and Exeter Townships, both in southwestern Ontario.

Organizations such as Pflag expressed their outrage over the decision in the vote’s aftermath. On Tuesday, critics at Queen’s Park demanded that Education Minister Stephen Lecce force the board to fly the flag.

According to Global News, Lecce refused to go that far, stating his disappointment with the decision. Premier Doug Ford replied with “no comment.”


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  • Teresa Pierre
    published this page in BLOG 2023-06-01 15:42:54 -0400