For the first time in schools' history, Toronto Catholic schools will raise the Pride flag in June, which is recognized as "pride month" in Toronto.
The Toronto Catholic District School Board announced on Twitter Friday that the Board of Trustees voted in favor of the rainbow colored flag being raised every June, and proclaimed that every June from this year forth be recognized as "pride month" within the school system.
"We recognize that this is an important step required to demonstrate the TCDSB's ongoing commitment to fostering inclusive environments that are safe and welcoming places for 2SLGBTQ+ students and staff," wrote TCDSB Chair Joe Martino and Director Brendan Browne in a statement Friday morning.
This vote comes after a 2SLGBTQ+ Advisory Committee was created to recommend the raising of the pride flag and the proclamation of pride month in Toronto Catholic schools, writing that "our Catholic faith urges us to reach out to those who are marginalized, excluded, discriminated against, or forgotten, and to celebrate their individuality as God's children."
The vote also follows last month's decision in the Waterloo Catholic District School Board to raise the pride flag, as well as a vote for the same action that didn't pass in Halton Region Catholic Schools.
Toronto City Councillor Kristin Wong-Tam, who had spoken at the board meeting, wrote on twitter "History is Made!" and spoke on the "most remarkable" speeches students made in favor of the actions.
"By raising the rainbow flags and proclaiming Pride Month, you can take action to protect LGBTQ2S students by working to create a strong, caring and affirming community. One that cherishes a diverse school community - one that is fair-minded - one that is prepared to demonstrate love in bold, colourful action," she said.
Also speaking at the board meeting was former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne, who spoke on sending the clear signal that the district is committed to an inclusive learning environment.
"As you all know, I am not Catholic I am however a member of the United Church of Canada so as a member of the Christian community I believe with you that the teachings of Christ are explicitly about the inclusion of everyone in our love. Equity means that in order to give someone that love and support we sometimes have to go that extra mile," said Wynne.
The vote was not met without pushback, though.
Father Michael Simeon, a priest of the Archdiocese of Toronto, argued that the displaying of the pride flag would undermine the TCDSB mission, according to CP24.
"As one courage member related to me when this was brought up, 'the Pride flag is a lie.' It's not about diversity, inclusion and acceptance. It's about conformity, exclusion and intolerance,” said Father Simeon.