Catholic Board Asks Union Not To March In Pride Parade

It’s a move being called “well-intentioned but mistaken” by a local school board.

A decision by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) to have members march in the WorldPride parade in Toronto is drawing some heat from the London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB).

Board members voted on Monday in favour of sending a letter to the president of OECTA asking that he reconsider the union’s participation in the June 29 event.

In the draft letter approved at Monday’s board meeting, board chair Bill Hall is clear that the request is not due to a lack of support for the LGBTQ community.

“This in no way contradicts the strong support we have for both students and staff members in our system who may be lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender,” the letter reads.

In the letter, however, Hall very clearly says that the board does not feel the activity can be reconciled with Catholic teachings in LDCSB schools.

He says it’s about what the parade has become.

Of the seven trustees present at Monday’s board meeting, only one voted against sending the letter.

Trustee Philip Squire argues it’s not the place of the board to tell teachers what they can do in their spare time.

Squire says he’s not sure whether any LCDSB teachers plan to join the OECTA delegation in the parade.

In March, delegates at OECTA’s Annual General Meeting voted in favour of participating in the parade under the union’s banner.

A group called Parents as First Educators launched a petition demanding that OECTA reverse the decision to march in the parade. OECTA refused to back down, and in a release said it would be registering to take part in World Pride.

“Catholic Teachers who so choose, will be marching as show of support for our LGBT students, staff, sisters and brothers and their right to be free from bullying and discrimination,” OECTA wrote on it’s website in April.

The York Catholic District School Board is only other board to vote to send a letter asking OECTA not to march. A similar motion raised at the Halton Catholic District School Board died on the floor without a seconder, while the Waterloo Catholic District School Board voted to support OECTA’s participation in the parade.

Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins has spoken out against OECTA participation in World Pride as well.

“[OECTA’s] competence is limited to collective bargaining, and the services any union provides to its members,” the LCDSB letter quotes Collins as saying. “When it goes beyond those areas, it can easily go wrong, as it has in the decision of the OECTA delegates to participate in this event. This decision shows that they and the OECTA leadership have an inadequate and mistaken understanding of their faith.”

Read the entire letter here:

LDCSB letter to Ryan