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Catholic teachers’ union to march in Toronto Pride parade

Union wants to show solidarity with ‘most marginalized group in Catholic community’

Check out the highlights of Toronto Pride 2013. Trevor Boris talks with Rick Mercer, Toronto Argo Joe Eppele, gold-medallist rower Marnie McBean, lots of twinks and one leatherman.

As a Toronto public school board trustee lobbies for a crackdown on nudity in the Pride parade, an Ontario Catholic teachers’ union has voted to march in the parade for the first time.

At its annual conference on March 10, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) voted to enter the parade as a show of support for LGBT Catholics.

“Registering for, and marching in the WorldPride Parade is a visible symbol of solidarity with one of the most marginalized groups in the Catholic community,” reads the motion, which was obtained by the Catholic, anti-abortion blog Life Site News.

The move comes in the wake of a Toronto District School Board trustee’s motion to have the board formally request nudity laws be enforced at Pride. The nudity motion comes to a vote April 9.

Meanwhile, the OECTA motion states the union has “been a leader in promoting the inclusion and recognition of the rights of LGBTTQ people.”

Proposed by the union’s branch for Toronto secondary teachers, the approved motion reads, “That the association show its support for gay-straight alliances (GSAs) and its lesbian, transgendered, two-spirited and queer members by registering for, and marching in, the WorldPride Parade on Jun 29, 2014.”

While the motion signals support from the Catholic teachers’ union, Ontario students have taken Catholic school board officials to task in recent years over restrictions on students starting gay-straight alliances (GSAs).

In 2011, Catholic boards came under fire for policies that either banned LGBT groups or allowed only those that didn’t use the word “gay” in their names. An Xtra investigation found that Ontario’s Catholic bishops forbade the province’s 29 Catholic boards from allowing GSAs.

Toronto’s Catholic school board voted against a motion last May that requested the board break Ontario law by banning GSAs.

Meanwhile, a gay Mississauga student filed a discrimination complaint in December against the Catholic francophone school board for southwest Ontario, alleging his school tried to prevent students from starting a GSA.

The OECTA motion, which required 50 percent of votes, passed. Despite multiple requests, the union did not provide Daily Xtra with the detailed vote results. A union spokesperson said that motions “are only available to members.”

Some Catholic groups are opposing the motion. One blog has started a letter-writing campaign asking Ontario bishops and Toronto’s cardinal to speak out.

“It’s time for faithful Catholics to take back our Catholic schools. Publicly-funded Catholic schools are broken beyond repair,” reads a Catholic Insight post. “The rot has reached to the core. It’s time to establish parochial schools that are authentically Catholic.”