Parents angry over 'safe spaces' for LGBTQ students disrupt York Catholic board meeting


Police were called in to deal with angry parents after they disrupted a Catholic school board meeting north of Toronto earlier this week over the issue of safe spaces for LGBTQ students.

The parents attended the York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB) meeting Tuesday evening in Aurora to oppose what are known as "safe space" stickers, which are used by some teachers to signal acceptance to LGBTQ children and teens. 

Carlo Ravenna, one of the parents, spoke directly to the board about the stickers in a pre-approved deputation. 

"They shouldn't say 'safe space.' They should say 'danger zone,'" he said at the meeting. "Preaching confusion in the guise of inclusivity and acceptance is truly disgusting."

The parents say the stickers, and any LGBTQ-inclusive messaging, are at odds with their Catholic faith.

Sheree di Vittorio, another parent who made a virtual deputation, told the board, "Catholic schools should not allow transgender or LGBT students to attend."

"It is most certainly not appropriate to engage kids to be open to these ideologies. There are biblical reasons why homosexuality is considered a sin … regardless of what Pope Francis may think," she said.

Exclusion based on sexual orientation or gender identity is violation

Excluding students based on their sexual orientation or gender identity would be a violation of the Ministry of Education's policy requirements for Equity and Inclusive Education in Ontario Schools and the Ontario Human Rights Commission's policies.

After the two deputations, a crowd of parents in the gallery became increasingly disruptive, the board said in a statement sent to CBC Toronto.

Shouting and cries of,"You're all pathetic!" and, "Stay away from our kids" could be heard on a livestreamed video of the meeting. The YCDSB told CBC Toronto it has since removed the video from YouTube "because the comments made there violated our Code of Conduct and infringed on the privacy rights of some of our staff members." 

Eventually, the board members were forced to pause the meeting, York Regional Police were called in and many people in the gallery decided to leave on their own, according to the board's statement.