Home > Releases > Catholic Students for GSAs and Queer Ontario Call on Premier McGuinty to Support LGBTQ Students in Ontario schools

Catholic Students for GSAs and Queer Ontario Call on Premier McGuinty to Support LGBTQ Students in Ontario schools

August 6th, 2011

Premier McGuinty’s recent announcement during Toronto Pride Week that ‘mandates’ both Public and Catholic schools to allow students to start up LGBT Support Groups is a step in the right direction, but which also leaves Catholic Students for GSAs and Queer Ontario with even more questions than answers. —

As this issue has unfolded, the Premier and the Ministry of Education have continually refused our calls to enforce Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM) 145,* a Liberal implemented policy that mandates school boards to support students that wish to form GSAs. Given their unassertive stance, which lets school boards decide the form and content of these groups, both our organizations feel this latest announcement is a vague political promise that in no way addresses the questions we have been asking in our collective efforts to establish GSAs in all public schools. lt also fails to explain how or why the provincial government continues to sidestep pre-existing Policy that supports students’ right to uncensored peer-led support groups.

As such, McGuinty’s announcement raises the following questions:

  • How does the Ministry of Education plan to mandate School Boards across the province to allow LGBT support groups, while facing the resistance that will inevitably come from social and moral conservatives? How will the Ministry of Education ensure that this promise to mandate LGBT support groups is not shelved as a result of this conservative uproar, as was the case with the improved Health & Physical Education Curriculum introduced last year?
  • What exactly is meant by ‘LGBT support group’? Will these groups be formed and directed by students, be it independently or with the guidance of a teacher; or will these groups be created and directed by school administrators?
  • Does the Ministry’s support for these LGBT support groups also include a support for “Gay-Straight Alliances” (thus named) and the use of rainbows and/or the words “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual” and “trans,” “transgender,” “transsexual,” or any other similar word to identify and name these groups? Will the Ministry put an end to the censorship of such words and imagery by Catholic School Boards?
  • How will the Ministry ensure that no students are banned from forming LGBT support groups in their schools; What does the Ministry plan to do with schools boards that fail to comply with this announcement; and What resources does the Ministry plan to provide to students who are thinking of establishing an LGBT support group — and to those who have managed to form one?
  • What role will ‘support’ documents such as the Pastoral Guidelines to Assist Students of Same Sex Orientation** play in the formation of LGBT “support groups” within the Catholic school system? Does the Ministry plan on banning such blatantly discriminatory guidelines?
  • Does the Ministry plan to keep a record of all the LGBT support groups that have been formed within the province to ensure that they are all being given adequate support from their school boards? ***
  • Lastly: Why does the Ministry plan on implementing this program in September and not NOW, when course calendars are being written and printed for the 2011-2012 school year?

We have written to the Premier and to Minister Dombrowsky to request a meeting to discuss our concerns. We call on the Premier of Ontario to responsibly address the issue of support for LGBTQ youth in our Province. We call on him to enforce PPM 145, to remove the Pastoral Guidelines to Assist Students of Same Sex Orientation from Ontario Catholic Schools, and to create a mechanism for monitoring and ensuring follow-through of the implementation of such groups. Only then can the Ontario Government claim to be a true supporter of LGBTQ youth across the province. Anything less is unacceptable.

* http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/extra/eng/ppm/145.pdf
** http://www.scribd.com/doc/48652806/Pastoral-Guidelines-To-Assist-Students-of-Same-Sex-Attraction

*** Note: A conversation between Queer Ontario and the Ministry of Education on February 9, 2011 revealed that the Ministry has no records of GSAs and doesn’t track them.

Catholic Students for GSAs (Facebook)

Comments are closed.