york catholic school board

Police called to school board meeting about safe spaces for LGBTQ students near Toronto

York Regional Police were called in to deal with several parents who disrupted a Catholic school board meeting last week over the issue of safe spaces for LGBTQ students. 

On Tuesday evening, the York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB) held a meeting that was disrupted by parents protesting "safe space stickers." The stickers are used to signal a positive space of acceptance for LGBTQ students, both welcoming them and supporting them. 

Multiple parents claimed that the stickers conflict with their Catholic faith, and disagreed with the message behind the signage. 

"They shouldn't say 'safe space.' They should say 'danger zone'," one parent said at the meeting. "Preaching confusion in the guise of inclusivity and acceptance is truly disgusting." 

Another parent told the board that, "Catholic schools should not allow transgender or LGBT students to attend." 

"It is most certainly not appropriate to engage kids to be open to these ideologies," the parent continued. "There are biblical reasons why homosexuality is considered a sin... regardless of what Pope Francis might think."

Crowds of parents in the gallery began to disrupt the board meeting, with cries of "stay away from our kids" and "disgusting" heard over the meeting's livestream video on YouTube. 

The YCDSB told CBC Toronto that they eventually removed the video because "the comments made there violated our Code of Conduct and infringed on the privacy rights of some of our staff members." 

Board members ultimately had to pause the meeting following more clashes, and eventually, York Regional Police were called in. 

Although the stickers were distributed in January, the signage has been available to teachers at the board for a number of years. 

The school board said in a statement that it "was not made aware of these stickers in advance, but the YCDSB has supported teachers in choosing to display or not display these stickers in their classroom, based on their personal beliefs."

The Ontario government has previously recognized that "homophobia represents a serious threat to the mental well-being and safety of 2SLGBTQI+ students." 

Ontario's Education Act also states that every school board "shall promote a positive school climate that is inclusive and accepting of all pupils, including pupils of any race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status, or disability." 

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