Pride month brings conflict among Waterloo Region Catholic District School Board trustees
KITCHENER -- A debate over a move to show inclusion to the LGBTQ+ community, has left one Waterloo Catholic District School Board Trustee ‘disappointed’ and another calling Pride the ‘deadliest of deadly sins.’
On Monday night, trustees were given the opportunity to weigh in on a flag that will be flown above schools during June, which is Pride month. The flag is not the rainbow flag typically associated with Pride events.
Instead, the Catholic board unveiled an image that features 16 figures in different colours, along with religious symbols. Underneath reads the phrase, ‘We are all wonderfully made.’
Trustee Melanie Van Alphen had the biggest opposition to the unveiling, noting that petitions from some students favoured the traditional rainbow flag.
“One from St. David’s students and the other from Resurrection students, in the petition from Resurrection it states the following, ‘Safe Spaces Resurrection wants to fly the rainbow flag at the front of our school to display a symbol of gender identity sexual orientation in the Resurrection community during this month,” said Van Alphen during the meeting.
Van Alphen suggested the existing flag would work for Catholic school flagpoles.
The board says the alternate image is the result of a year of several dialogues and meetings that explored how to reflect the reality of the broader community. In a report to trustees, the board also notes that the image draws from Year 1 of the board’s Pastoral Plan. The typical rainbow colours are still there, the board report also notes. The message is derived from 1 John 4:19, ‘We love because he first loved us.’
“We as a board are part of a much larger community a larger faith community and a larger community of Catholic education. We have tried to work respectfully and in dialogue with our other catholic partners to arrive at a decision that is reflective of who we are as a catholic education community,” noted the board’s Director of Education, Loretta Notten in the meeting.
Van Alphen said she was disappointed that the decision has already been made to fly the alternate flag, “the report that you just shared shows that you have spent a significant time designing a flag that you feel represents pride month, but there is already a flag for that the rainbow flag."
There were trustees at Monday night’s meeting who spoke out in favour of the alternate flag. Greg Reitzel said he couldn’t continue his work as a trustee if the rainbow pride flag flew above a Catholic school, “if it came to us flying the pride flag, with my belief that pride is the deadliest of the deadly sins, I honestly would have to resign because I could not support a decision to actually fly a pride flag,” he said in the meeting.