Toronto’s Catholic school board reinstates LGBTQ+ website to resource page following criticism


TORONTO —
The Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) has reinstated a website to its resource page following criticism from some members of the LGBTQ+ community.

On Monday, the executive director of LGBT Youth Line issued a statement saying the TCDSB had removed the organization’s website from its online list of resources for students.

Following a meeting with the TCDSB trustee on Wednesday, Berkha Gupta said the school board amended its decision.

LGBT Youth Line has been active for 25 years and aims to support youth who may feel isolated about their sexuality.

The organization’s website was originally removed from the TCDSB’s list after Gupta received an email from the school board saying there was a section that included “inappropriate material.”

Gupta said “the link is about sexual health information,” adding “my assumption is that it’s related to the sexual content or the level of knowledge that is being given around sexual relationships.”

The email also linked out to a publication called Coririere Canadese, with an article written by Joe Volpe.

The article says LGBT Youth Line “is a smut site” and that “It is a recruitment site operated by a self-professed LGBTQ+ umbrella organization to attract children that operates province-wide.”

Gupta said “yes, we recruit youth all year round to develop skills, strengthen their sense of self, and become peer leaders in their communities, but I think that Joe was going for something else there.”

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the TCDSB said they had known about the content since the Christmas break and wanted to open a conversation.

“We wanted an opportunity to connect with staff about the content and so it was removed in order for us to have that conversation,” Shazia Vlahos, communications director for the TCDSB, said.

Following that conversation and the reinstatement of the organization’s website to the TCDSB’s list of resources, Gupta said “these are great starting points” but more needs to be done.

“This last week highlighted major gaps in supports for 2SLGBTQ+ youth in Catholic schools across Ontario,” Gupta said. “Unfortunately, it often takes a negative moment like this to shed light and gain momentum to fix gaps in support.”

On Thursday, Vlahos reiterated that staff at the TCDSB “wanted an opportunity to connect with Youth Line to better understand their resources.”

“Following a meeting that took place yesterday with Youth Line the link was reposted and further engagement with Youth Line will continue to better serve 2SLGBTQ+ students.”



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