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Catholic school board settles human rights complaint

Attention to story has made it easier to create safe spaces, says former student

Credit: Andrea Houston

A Mississaugua teen who fought for a GSA at his French Catholic school has settled a human rights case with his former school board.

Christopher Karas, who was blocked from putting up posters that included a quote from famed gay politician Harvey Milk at École secondaire catholique Sainte-Famille while he was a student there, reached a settlement with Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud prior to a scheduled April 1 hearing at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

The two parties had met for mediation in Oct 2014, but didn’t reach a settlement at that time.

Karas, now a Humber College student, would not comment on the details of the settlement. In his original claim, he had requested $25,000 in damages and a letter of apology. He also requested that the school put in place a harassment and discrimination policy, sensitivity training, gender-neutral washrooms and remove Poison from the school curriculum — a book with content described as homophobic.

“I think my reasons for pursuing this law suit has always been to raise awareness for this issue in the LGBT community,” he says.

“From here on out I think that my case has created a precedent for other students who wish to create safe spaces in their schools,” Karas adds. “School boards will take notice to this and they won’t be so willing to challenge a student who wishes to put in a safe space in their school.”

A statement provided to Daily Xtra by Mikale-Andrée Joly, a spokesperson for Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud, says that they are pleased to have settled the case.

As for Karas, he is thinking about his future. “I’m looking at changing programs and going to paralegal studies,” he says, adding that he’d like to eventually be a lawyer so that he can take on cases like the one he has been involved in.

“I think it’s really important that we raise these issues and also that we come to a resolution. I think we’ve done that today.”