March 3, 2023
Dear Families of the York Catholic District School Board,
On Tuesday, February 28, the York Catholic District School Board held a Regular Board Meeting which included delegations from the public. Supporters of the delegations caused a disturbance to the point that the meeting could not continue until a recess was called and order was restored.
Since that evening, many members of the York Catholic community have reached out to us to say the delegations caused hurt. On reflection, I acknowledge that there was a violation of our Code of Conduct in that the delegations did not treat all members of our community with dignity and respect at all times (policy 117, section 3.1.4).
As a Catholic learning community, we believe that Jesus taught us that every person is a child of God and is worthy of love, dignity and respect. Sharing the Gospel message and promoting equity are at the core of our work because we see these priorities as one and the same. We are committed to ensuring that we provide a place where those who feel excluded, bullied or struggling with their sense of belonging can gather in support of one another with Jesus Christ as our role model. This is why all our schools display the message, “We are diverse. We are one in Christ.”
Our partners at the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) recently distributed stickers to their members that feature a Progress Pride Flag and the text, “Safe Space.” The Board of Trustees is not typically asked to approve operational matters and they did not know of or approve these stickers before they were produced and distributed.
The leadership of the YCDSB feels that the message of ‘Safe Spaces’ is consistent with our core Catholic values. Pope Francis has repeatedly discussed how the 2SLGBTQIA+ community should not be marginalized but should be welcomed with respect and sensitivity. Therefore, the YCDSB has encouraged teachers to display or not display these stickers based on their personal beliefs.
We acknowledge that this has been a difficult time for many members of our community. We also recognize that there are differences of opinion on whether the stickers should be displayed in our schools. I ask all members of the York Catholic community to refer to our Code of Conduct which guides us in maintaining a safe, inclusive and accepting school climate.
We thank you for your ongoing support of your child’s education and their school community.
Yours in Christ,
Director of Education