After several incidents of publicly subsidized Catholic schools in Ontario refusing to allow students to start Gay Straight Alliances, and sometimes even banning rainbows (?!), the Ontario government has announced they will mandate that all schools, both public and Catholic, create “LGBT Support Groups” by this fall.
From The Advocate:
Glen Murray, a gay member of the provincial parliament who attended, told Xtra!
“This is a huge step forward,” Murray said, although details of the plan have yet to be announced. “Rights are never easily won. It’s always a battle. And this is a victory.”
Some Catholic schools have allowed generic “support” or “antibullying” groups, but Murray said McGuinty referred specifically to LGBT support groups. “Starting in September,” Murray said, “it will be students, not principals or school boards, that will decide whether a school has an LGBT support group.”
But Xtra asked Murray’s office whether this would mean we’d see GSAs in Catholic schools:
Catholic school officials have so far allowed the formation of general diversity/inclusion/support clubs but have insisted they have “Catholic names,” such as Open Arms, the name given to the St Joe’s group. And Ontario Catholic school administrators have announced that they are working to develop a “framework for anti-bullying clubs,” while specifically not calling them gay-straight alliances (GSAs).
“Premier McGuinty did not use the words GSAs,” Murray wrote in a text message to Xtra. “He said ‘support groups for LGBT youth.’ Starting in September, it will be students, not principals or school boards that will decide whether a school has an LGBT support group. I emphasize he also did not say ‘generic support groups or diversity groups'; he said specifically ‘an LGBT support group.’ He did not, however, use the words GSA.”
So this is likely a step in the right direction but it remains to be seen what form and function these support groups will take in the province’s Catholic schools. It’ll also be interesting to see if this becomes an issue in an upcoming provincial election.