TORONTO, ONTARIO — (March 11, 2014) – The Mississauga Catholic School Board is systematically denying students their constitutional right to form Gay Straight Alliances, in direct violation of Bill 13, Accepting Schools Act.
In a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, student Christopher Karas documents a coordinated effort by the Mississauga Catholic Board, directed by Catholic bishops, and executed by staff at École Secondaire Catholique Sainte-Famille, to impede the formation and functioning of a group to support gay and lesbian students.
“I decided to start a group to combat homophobia at my school,” said Karas. “I couldn’t imagine that move would be the catalyst for a new round of homophobic bullying, this time from the administration.”
The school took 20 months to approve Karas’ request, then stipulated that the school principal or vice-principal uncharacteristically oversee all meetings, and now censors the group’s identity through a ban on gay names and symbols.
“The Catholic school system’s report card is abysmal,” said Justin Trottier of the Centre for Inquiry (CFI). “Banning atheist books, suspending pro-life students and violating the constitutional rights of LGBTQ youth. Constant human right conflicts are inherent in a tax-payer funded religious school system. CFI is therefore calling on the Ontario government to finally defund Roman Catholic schools.”
Karas will organize “Dare to Stand Out,” a conference (May 5-9) hosted by Jer’s Vision, to train students across Ontario in how to launch GSAs. Despite intense student interest, there are zero GSAs in Catholic schools, which Karas plans to change.
His efforts are supported by the CFI, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Egale Canada, Queer Ontario and other pro-rights groups.
An exclusive interview with Karas has been posted online to Think Again! TV: http://youtu.be/iu9_14aEYno