“Toronto’s Catholic school board has reinstated the website of an organization that supports queer, trans and two-spirit youth on its resources list.
On Jan. 8, the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) removed the link to LGBT YouthLine’s website due to ‘inappropriate content.’ The content in question, which was reported to the board over the holidays, is found under the site’s sex and sexual health tab.
LGBT YouthLine was advised of this decision in an email, which included a link to an article titled ‘TCDSB website hosts pornographic site defended by trustees,’ published in the Italian-language newspaper Corriere Canadese.
The organization said the piece was ‘in reference to (its) website and its resources.’
“There is a long history accusing 2SLGBTQ+ people of pedophilia… and the article explicitly uses these arguments against us. This rhetoric is harmful, unacceptable and is overt homophobia and transphobia… LGBT YouthLine said in a Jan. 11 statement. ‘What’s extremely concerning is that the TCDSB felt it appropriate to remove our much-needed service from their resources based on an article that is homophobic, transphobic and racist.’
On Wednesday, YouthLine’s executive director Berkha Gupta met with Ward 9 Trustee Norm Di Pasquale and Derek Chen, the superintendent of equity, Indigenous education and community relations, to discuss the situation.
A short time later, the LGBT YouthLine was reinstated.
Board spokesperson Shazia Vlahos confirmed the news in a Jan. 13 email.
‘A meeting took place today and YouthLine was responsive to our concern. As a result of the meeting, the link to YouthLine has been reposted and further engagement with YouthLine will continue,’ she wrote…
Gupta said the resolution they’ve reached with the board ‘makes sense,’ adding they have not removed the controversial link…
Di Pasquale said it makes no sense to take away already limited resources from ‘marginalized and vulnerable’ LGBTQ students, especially during a pandemic.
‘They need all the support and care we can give them,’ said Di Pasquale, who will be bringing a related motion to the board on Thursday that includes the creation of a resource page for LGBTQ students and a new advisory committee.
Di Pasquale also wants staff to report back on how the TCDSB can better align the supports it offers to LGBTQ students.
Further, his motion includes putting up LGBT YouthLine’s posters and information in schools, which the organization demanded in its statement.
In terms of accountability, which they’re also seeking, Di Pasquale said the TCDSB is committed to ‘taking this situation and making something positive out of it.’
‘It’s just time for a larger conversation on how we can support LGBTQ students and we’re ready for it,’ he said.
Gupta said the outpouring of support they’ve received since this news broke has been ‘wonderful,’ adding they hope it ‘leads to bigger conversations’ and actions.”