HCDSB Votes No to Raising Pride Flag

By: Laura Steiner
The Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) has voted against raising the rainbow flag in recognition of Pride Month in June. The decision was made during a special meeting held April 26 2021.
The motion was originally brought forth by Burlington to an April 6 meeting High school student Nicole Hotchkiss, as part of a social justice course. She created an anonymous survey which got responses from 125 students.  Of the students who answered, approximately 75.2% of the respondents felt the school was unsafe for LGBTQ+ students.  Hotchkiss thought that maybe it was because the support wasn’t visible enough.  The final question on the survey asked students’ opinions on flying the rainbow flag. 85% of the students surveyed were in favour of the gesture.
The vote was pushed forward to an special meeting on April 26, 2021, and was championed by Burlington Trustee Brenda Agnew.  “My sole motivation is about saving lives.  Student lives,” Agnew said as part of her five minute opening statement.   The motion was voted down during the four hour meeting.
Board Chair, and Milton Trustee Patrick Murphy released a statement Wednesday posted on the HCDSB website.  It reaffirmed the board’s commitment to diversity. “We are committed to nurturing safe and inclusive learning environments in each of our schools, and while our staff work hard to create and and maintain welcoming spaces, we know that there is always more we can do as a system to ensure that all students experience a sense of belonging,” he said.
Burlington Mayor Reaffirms Support for LGBTQ Community
Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward reaffirmed her city’s support. “The City of Burlington stands with all members of our 2SLGBTQI+ community.  We proudly fly the flag for pride each June and painted a rainbow crosswalk on Lakeshore (the first of many).  To our young people, and students, we hear you, we see you, we support you.  You are welcome here,” she said on Twitter.
Oakville  has announced plans to do something similar. At its April 26, 2021 meeting, Oakville Council approved funding for three rainbow crosswalks along Lakeshore at: Navy Street, Kerr St, and Bronte Rd.