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Ontario education minister will listen to students on GSAs

Laurel Broten has taken advice from Jamie Hubley's father

Education Minister Laurel Broten. Credit: Andrea Houston

Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten says Catholic schools should listen to the father of 15-year-old Jamie Hubley, the gay Ottawa student who committed suicide in October.

Ottawa Councillor Allan Hubley told Broten that students should have the right to call their groups whatever they want. 
“Mr Hubley told me that Jamie wanted to start a Rainbow Club, that’s what he wanted. My expectation is that we will together work to ensure all schools in the province have an accepting climate. I set out my expectation in the legislation.”

Broten spoke with Xtra on Jan 24 about recent education developments, including an Xtra investigation that uncovered another Catholic school board that has said it would not allow students to form GSAs.

On Jan 16, Mitch Burke, a Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB) student went public after he was denied a gay-straight alliance (GSA) at his Ancaster school

Broten repeated her position on GSAs. She says “single issue” clubs, like GSAs, will be mandated in all schools if Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act, passes third reading. The legislation states that all schools, including Catholic schools, will be expected to allow what students ask for. 

Queer Ontario and Catholic Students for GSAs plan to submit recommendations to close the loophole in the language that allows Catholic schools to name the groups.

Asked about news of a charter challenge to the Ontario Catholic school system, Broten says she has no comment on the government’s next step.

“We are very firm that Catholic schools can operationalize Bill 13, and they can adhere to what our expectations are. And that message remains firm, whatever takes place in the courts.”

Listen to the full interview here:
Laurel Broten speaks to Xtra Jan 24 on GSAs and queer youth.

Below is a video excerpt from Andrea Houston’s interview with Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten in November, 2011.