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Ottawa Catholic Board wants to resolve gay project issue

Student’s parent feels they've made an ‘important point’

Ann Maloney’s daughter Quinn displays a rainbow flag she drew on her hand to protest her school’s decision to veto her and a classmate’s research project on gay rights. Credit: Provided by Ann Maloney

Quinn and Polly may get to do their project about gay rights after all.

On Nov 28, Ted Hurleythe chair of the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB), released a statement saying that Ann Beauchamp, the principal of St George Elementary School, would meet with the two Grade 6 students and their parents to resolve the matter of the project they were barred from starting.

Xtra broke the news on Nov 25 that Beauchamp had vetoed Quinn and Polly’s project on gay rights, which was to be presented at a school social-justice fair, over concerns about the appropriateness of the subject. It was quickly picked up by other media outlets, causing a public outcry on social media.

At the time, the OCSB released a short statement saying that the board has a “rich family life program that addresses all aspects of human relationships and family life in an age appropriate manner. The curriculum stresses the dignity of each and every person and teaches that there are many ways to be a family.” 

Our concern about the age-appropriateness of the original subject matter for Grade 4 and 5 students was driving our decision to disallow the presentation of the subject by the Grade 6 children,” Hurley wrote in the new statement. It was not clear whether Beauchamp’s original decision was supported by the board.

Hurley adds that it is clear Quinn and Polly’s project is meant to combat bullying of gay people and notes that Pope Francis has indicated that he is in no position to judge the LGBT community. “The core message is that gay rights are a human right and that the underlying attitudes that have led to discrimination need to be addressed in school and in society as a whole.”

Ann Maloney, Quinn’s mother, hadn’t had a chance to tell her daughter the good news yet when she spoke with Xtra on Nov 28. She was thrilled to hear that the school board wants to resolve the issue. “It never occurred to me that they would change their mind,” she says. Maloney has not yet heard from the principal of St George.

“The support that we’ve had has been fantastic,” she says of Quinn and Polly’s new online fanbase. “We feel we’ve made an important point.”