Calling a spade a spade.

An article came out in the Xtra today discussing the current state of the ban on Gay-Straight Alliance clubs at the Halton District Catholic School Board. It’s been four months since the issue garnered the attention of the national press, but for all the talk, there has been no progress.

The situation with the Ottawa Catholic School Board has been as dismal. When they don’t spend their time stipulating why they ban GSAs, they deny even having the ban. As I’ve explained before, their denial relies on a game of semantics, but it works. Just like their framing of the situation as a move that’s good for equity and social justice.

If it weren’t the well-being of students at hand, I might find the entire situation comical. Here we have a collection of school boards, all fiercely opposing the existence of these weekly lunch gatherings of students who talk about ending bullying and making their schools safer for everyone.

From the perspective of one who is without prejudice, there is no downside to these clubs. The Ministry of Education praises them over and over for making schools better. They don’t cost anything to operate. The students run them themselves. It’s another club to add in the pool, along with the chess and debating clubs.

Things get a little more complicated when prejudice is thrown into the mix. Only then does all of the good of the above appear in a negative light. I’ve found that people have been apprehensive of calling the Ottawa Catholic School Board and those like it homophobic, but there is no denying it. It’s time to call a spade a spade.

Hesitant still? Let’s go over the facts. In Ontario catholic schools:

  • Guidelines are issued on how to constrain a specific minority. It calls the entire minority “objectively disordered.”
  • The name that the minority goes by is banned as a word.
  • Those from the minority are prohibited from having relationships. It’s encouraged for everyone else.
  • Student-run support groups for the minority are forbidden.

Imagine if the minority was anything other than queer youth. Politicians would jump into action and the policies would be rescinded immediately. Sadly, the thought of discrimination is still acceptable when it comes to this issue.

‎”The goal of Catholic school boards “is to end discrimination against anyone in our society,” said Nancy Kirby, president of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association. “But we still have to follow the church teachings.”

Only on this issue does it seem to be okay to have the words “end discrimination” share the same sentence with the word “but.” Only on this issue have we said that there can be exceptions with regards to protection from discrimination.

Homophobia is ripe throughout the Ottawa Catholic School Board and the other Catholic school boards here in Ontario. It is a travesty that no one in a position of power has had the courage to do anything about it. It’s a tragedy that it requires courage at all.