When asked about the government’s position on Catholic school boards banning gay-straight alliances, premier Dalton McGuinty appeared to suggest the practice runs against provincial rules. “We are making it perfectly clear to all our school boards, all our schools, all our principals, all our teachers and all our students that it is unacceptable in Ontario to discriminate based on race, gender, religion or sexual orientation,” he said in Question Period on Monday. However, McGuinty also said that “boards can find different ways to ensure that they adhere to those policies.”
Critics are charging that the premier is ignoring the question, and implying that his government’s equity policy allows for some ambiguity.
The debate is in reference to Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board’s policy against forming GSAs. When student Leanne Iskander asked the principal of St. Joseph’s Catholic Secondary School to form an alliance, she says her request was refused. Iskander was critical of the premier’s response, the Globe and Mail reported. “It is time for him and the government to actually do something about it,” she said. The NDP’s Rosario Marchese was also critical of the government, stating that “There is absolutely no ambiguity” in provincial policy.
A 2009 memorandum sent from the education department to school boards reads: “boards must also help school staff to give support to students who wish to participate in gay-straight alliances and in other student-led activities that promote understanding and development of healthy relationships.”