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Student threatened with 'disciplinary action' if GSA advocacy continues


Student threatened with 'disciplinary action' if GSA advocacy continues

Leanne Iskander marching with Catholic Students for GSAs during the StonewallTO march. IMAGE 1 OF 1
Gay-straight alliances forbidden in all Catholic schools: principal
Leanne Iskander has been blocked from starting an “LGBT support group” at her school and told that if she continues to advocate for gay-straight alliances she will face “disciplinary action.”

Iskander, the founder of Catholic Students for GSAs (CS4GSA), and her parents were summoned for a meeting with St Joseph Catholic Secondary School principal Jeff Quenneville on Sept 1 to discuss her latest proposal for a GSA, Iskander says. The principal told her unequivocally that “an LGBT support group or GSA will never be permitted in any Catholic school because the bishops forbid them.”

“I was told a gay-straight alliance will never happen,” she says. “We are allowed to have a group called ‘Open Arms,’ a general equity group, nothing specific to LGBT. And he said it will not be student-run, either.”

Quenneville then threatened Iskander, she says, telling her she will face “disciplinary action” if she continues to promote and advocate for GSAs at her Mississauga school.

The principal went on to say that “Catholic schools are not permitted to allow LGBT-specific groups because the bishops forbid them, so none of the schools are allowed.”

Iskander is now looking at legal action and is speaking to a lawyer. “We are obviously not going to compromise any more. They aren’t going to move.”

In June, Premier Dalton McGuinty promised, via MPP Glen Murray, that students would be allowed to start queer support groups in September, and that students would lead the way on all decisions.

Murray could not be reached for comment.

Queer Ontario’s Casey Oraa tells Xtra he is very disappointed but not surprised. “It’s obvious the Catholic board and the Liberal government have no interest in bettering the lives of LGBT youth. There’s no commitment.”

“In the upcoming provincial election, vote with your conscience. This issue should be shaping how you vote,” Oraa says. “The current government promised LGBT support groups would be allowed in all Ontario schools. This is not happening. It’s a systemic problem and it’s not going away.”

Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, the director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association's equality program, says she is “shocked, disturbed and appalled” at the principal’s decision.

“[The Catholic school board] is now openly declaring a ban on GSAs, LGBT support groups and even anti-homophobia groups, it now sounds like,” she says. “I am devastated that these students would have to fight for what is their due. They have a constitutional right to associate and express themselves.”

“It is not reasonable or acceptable to ban GSAs. I am very upset by this news. On a personal level this is like a punch in the gut.”

It wasn’t just Iskander who faced a threat on Sept 1 from the St Joe's principal. A teacher at the school who asked to remain anonymous to protect his job says Quenneville had a clear message to staff about GSAs: “The principal said, ‘Our job is Catholicism first, curriculum second. The secular world may look at our beliefs and say we are bigots, but it is our beliefs and they are protected.’”

The teacher says Quenneville also made it clear that "if you didn't agree, then find another job."

The battle for GSAs began in January when the Halton Catholic District School Board banned the groups, which are stipulated as requirements by the Ministry of Education in its equity policy.

Roman Catholic schools have repeatedly denied students’ requests for GSAs, saying supports are already in place and church doctrine condemns gay sex as “sinful and immoral.” One example of the “supports” given to gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans students is the community group Courage International, an organization that claims to “cure gays.”

In March, Iskander and the St Joe’s GSA were blocked from forming any group with the word gay in the title.

This summer, a letter from a priest representing Toronto’s Coptic Christian community threatened to pull thousands of students from Toronto Catholic District School Board classrooms if homosexuality is taught in schools in any way.

On Aug 31, at a meeting packed with anti-gay parents, clergy and community members, the TCDSB passed amendments that put Catholic “denominational rights above human rights.”

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GSA's in schools
Despite what the Toronto District BOARD has said, how many TDSB schools actually have GSA groups active in them?

Also, before the Government stops funding Catholic schools someone should do a study of all the inmates in Ontario prisons and find out what percentage attended Catholic schools vs percentage which attended TDSB schools.

This whole issue is about encouraging persons under 18 years of age to "come out". Many persons don't even know what they are until much later. Of all the problems we have in this society, I find the energy that activists are focusing on this issue quite disappointing. They are just picking on the weakling(the TCDSB).
No more Catholic influence on public education
Ontario must get the Roman Catholic church out of administering public education, now!!! Roman Catholics can rationalize anything - from nazis to child abuse. Their attitudes are insidiously oppressive to every human being on this beautiful earth.
As appealing as it is to take this issue and use it as a reason to vote anyone other than McGuinty this October, don't be fooled into thinking the other constituents will represent the LGBTQetc. community anymore assertively. Do you think Tim Hudak will support Catholic GSAs? Better think again! Vote smart - research individual platforms and email constituents. You may find that nobody is on our side.
Discrepancy in interpretation or reporting?
I just met a Gay teacher who teaches at a Catholic school and they have a GSA. So do different regions or schools interpret the same doctrine more stringently then do others? Is there a discrepancy in interpretation or reporting?
catholic church as usual
Nothings changed.

google "[country name] - catholic church molestation"


And www.catholicarrogance.org

And keep a paper bag handy.

I was so thrilled the day I got kicked out of religious school. Never looked back.

the same criminals would end all medical research because it might end up using stem cells. the case in point is the archbishop of Toledo a few weeks ago telling people to cut off money to the Komen cancer research group, that funds research into cures for the scourge of breast cancer.

we need some genetic solution to the vatican and its hierarchy.


(flames will be bad news back re eg your getting signed up for some special websites
Praying during the class time!
Check your facts! Muslim students are praying DURING class time and menstruating girls are segregated! Don't do it on public money! If you don't like go back to your shitty hole and don't change our culture!
re: Gay-straight alliance for muslims students
Christina there's absolutely no reason why there can't be a GSA at a school that also allows Muslims to pray on Fridays, however the school in question is a grade school and I do not believe there are any GSAs in grade schools, to be honest I think it wouldn't be much needed in schools where the students haven't yet reached puberty anyways. There is a huge difference between allowing Muslims to pray inside a public school in services that are totally optional and outside class time as opposed to the Catholic school system which is allowed to discriminate in its hiring in spite of being a public institution and which has been denying their students' Charter rights. No one is being discriminated against by allowing Muslims to pray inside a public school in a totally optional service outside of class time. However many are being discriminated against, not just LGBTQ students but staff and teachers who must prove they're practicing Catholics before being hired by the Catholic school system which receives public funding to promote one religious belief. In spite of Catholic school boards being a state agent and therefore subject to the Charter of Rights they regularly violate the Charter rights of their students and those of potential new teachers. The public school system, which embraces GSAs and makes allowances for students of different religions, including allowing Muslim students to pray in the schools optionally and outside class time on Fridays, the Muslim holy day, does not discriminate against anyone. The same is not true of the Catholic public school system in Ontario and that is why people are targeting them. The Toronto public school board regularly makes concessions for students of various religions, allowing Muslim students the option of attending prayers on Fridays outside of class time is no different and doesn't discriminate against anyone.
Gay-straight alliance for muslims students
How about a Gay-straight alliance at Valley Park Middle School in Toronto???
When it is about Muslims, suddenly, even the word "gay" is being prohibited, but you decided to start with the Catholic schools, no?
Wah wah wah!
No, I'm not Catholic, & don't trust any religion. It's their school, they make the rules. Don't like it? LEAVE! I'm so sick of hearing this crap. Just like who knows how many other issues over the past 50 years, they call it 'equal rights'. I call it what it is, 'special rights'. Do the rest of us a huge favour, SHUT THE HELL UP!!! Nothing but a bunch of bloody whiners! School's a place to learn(at least it use to be), not your own private social club. It's damn lucky for you that the taxpayers can't withhold there money, then you'd have a REAL reason to whine! You want your own private club? Get an education, get a job, & buy it yourselves! Until you're contributing, JUST SHUT UP!!!
Nice things
This is why we can't have nice things!
Catholics shit on everything with their outdated ethics.


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