York Catholic District School Board votes against flying the Pride flag in June
Published Monday, May 29, 2023 9:45AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 30, 2023 12:38AM EDT
The Pride Progress flag will not be flying next month outside the York Catholic Education Centre.
After several months of at times raucous meetings and presentations on the topic, trustees with the York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB) voted 6 – 4 against flying the rainbow flag outside its building in Aurora during the month of June.
“The motion, after the recorded vote, the motion is defeated,” Chair Frank Alexander said Monday night moments after the votes were tallied during the board's monthly meeting.
A few people in the packed boardroom loudly expressed their disappointment with the outcome. Alexander, who voted against the motion, ordered those individuals removed. He then called a five-minute break.
The motion, which wasn’t heard until nearly the end of the meeting, was tabled by student trustees Anthea Peta-Dragos and Jonah James.
“It really is unfortunate that the voice of students was not heard by the majority of the trustees. It is extremely disheartening, but, again, we will continue to fight," James told CP24 following the meeting.
"Students are strong fighters and we will continue to be there to represent them."
Peta-Dragos said she and James, who as student trustees were not able to vote on the motion, were optimistic that the vote would be in favour of flying the Pride flag.
“There’s very different opinions in the room and we were extremely hopeful that maybe we could get more votes for the flag, rather than the other” she said.
“Honestly, going into this vote we knew that it was going to be a very tight one, but were driven by what we believe in and we did have faith and you really can’t do anything without having faith,” he said, adding every other board that has voted on whether or not to fly the Pride flag also had a close vote.
“We know one day this flag will go up.”
Several trustees who shared their thoughts during the meeting on why they are against flying the Pride flag pointed to the need for the board to do more overall to support LGTBQ2S+ students all year long.
“Much more is needed to help move towards the end goal,” Trustee Michaela Barbieri said, adding this issue has divided people and she won't vote in favour of that.
“Tonight is not a matter of picking sides or who will win. It’s about our students and our community,” she said.
Trustee Joseph Dimeo agreed, adding he appreciates that members of York Catholic’s LGTBQ2S+ community experience “hate, bullying and pain every day,” but ultimately said he wouldn’t support flying the pride flag as it simply “checks a box.”
Dimeo also said he’s not convinced that the Pride flag for a month will “solve all problems.”
In advance of tonight’s meeting, YCDSB warned anyone planning to attend that there would be “increased security and the police will be present to assist if needed.”
The enhanced security comes after an April meeting where those opposed to raising the pride flag began shouting in the packed boardroom. Those individuals were asked to leave, but remained in the building’s atrium and didn’t vacate until police arrived.
On Monday, the board said that a number of other steps are also being taken to ensure civility, including a requirement that those attending “sign in and produce government issued photo ID that confirms their provided information.” Attendees were also given a letter during sign-in outlining the expectations of conduct and “the consequences of not living up to them,” the board noted in a series of tweets.
With files from CP24's Chris Fox.