Today, the following letter was sent from the President of The AIDS Network’s Board of Directors to the attention of Patrick Murphy, Chair of the Halton Catholic District School Board, and to Patrick Daly, Chair of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, regarding both boards recent decision not to raise the Pride flag at their district schools in observation of Pride month.
The letter reads:
To Patrick Daly, Hamilton Wentworth District Catholic School Board Chair, & Patrick Murphy, Halton Catholic District School Board Chair
I am writing today on behalf of The AIDS Network to express our profound disappointment and great concern regarding your board’s decision to not raise the Pride flag at your schools in Hamilton and Halton during Pride month. This decision contributes to the marginalization of students, parents and teachers in your institutions who continue to face discrimination and whose voices continue to be neglected in 2021.
The rationale provided to support this decision is frankly inadequate. This issue is not new and there has been more than sufficient time to prepare for this opportunity to show a more inclusive view from your boards.
As a publicly funded institution, Catholic school boards have a responsibility to uphold the Ontario Human Rights Code. Furthermore, it is our belief that religiously affiliated institutions receiving public funds bear an even greater responsibility to show solidarity with communities historically and presently marginalized as a result of the harmful, depreciating and disparaging teachings and positions taken by religious organizations.
As an AIDS Service Organization recognizing our 35th anniversary of service, we are very familiar with the devastating impact of the historic dismissal and disposability of Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+ communities. Our founders established our organization in 1986 to respond to an epidemic fueled by ignorance, distain and disregard for the value of queer lives. Your school board’s decision signals to your Two Spirit and
LGBTQIA+ constituents that their ongoing fight for equity and inclusion is unworthy of recognition. It joins with other recent, disturbing developments in the regions we serve, such as the violent attack on Hamilton Pride in 2019 and the prevalence of hate crimes locally, as a reminder of how far we have to go as communities striving for social justice.
It is clear that all these years later, since the founding of our organization, much work remains to be done in the pursuit of dignity, equity, inclusion and better health outcomes for queer and trans folks in our communities.
I strongly urge you to reconsider your positions on this matter.
President, Board of Directors
The AIDS Network