A Catholic school district which voted against flying Pride flags this past June will now be exposed to a splash of rainbow, compliments of the local community.
In the spring, leaders of the Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) voted against flying Pride flags at its schools despite a non-binary student’s persistent efforts for such commemoration. Now, it seems the local community is responding as the city of Burlington prepares to paint a rainbow crosswalk outside HCDSB’s headquarters. The Star reported:
“The selection of the crosswalk locations follows a survey put out by the city in May in which the overwhelming top selection by responders was for the rainbow crosswalk to be placed at the HCDSB office location.
“Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said the city is following what its residents requested through the survey and placed the new crosswalks at the top three voted-for locations.
“‘We heard from a lot of Catholic parents, students, teachers and a few trustees who also supported the location that was suggested the most in the survey. An overwhelming majority of residents do as well; however, we understand a few disagree,’ said Meed Ward.
“The crosswalk survey was filled out over 4,000 times — a significant response for a city-run survey. It was opened roughly a month after the board made its Pride flag decision.”
Among the supporters of the rainbow crosswalk are those who were on opposite sides of the Pride flag debate. A group organized after the HCDSB trustees’ decision, Halton Parents for Change, registered its support. Lauren Wallis, a representative of the group, commented, “We hope that HCDSB will use this as an opportunity to grow and improve their attitudes in the future.”
Patrick Murphy, who chairs HCDSB, also offered support, saying:
“‘I commend the City of Burlington for their efforts to build a compassionate, caring community. A rainbow crosswalk at the corner of Fairview and Drury Lane will serve as a visual reminder of our collective commitment to ensuring that the 2SLGBTQ+ members of our community feel valued, welcomed and respected.'”
Back in May, Bondings 2.0 reported not only on HCDSB officials’ refusal to fly Pride flags, but on the efforts by non-binary student Nic Hotchkiss, a high schooler in the district, to expand LGBTQ inclusion there. Hotchkiss and their allies’ efforts seemed unsuccessful at the time. The truth, however, was that a win just took a bit longer to bear out.
This incident in Canada is a reminder that often what seem to be defeats in the movement for LGBTQ equality are actually just prefaces to progress. It is clear the community within which HCDSB exists is quite supportive. And it is good to see one of the district’s highest officials acknowledge that such support is good, helpful, and a reminder of the work to be done. Hopefully, collaboration rather than conflict will lead to all sides walking together towards equality.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, August 17, 2021