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TDSB trustee says homophobic op-ed he wrote was hurtful

Harout Manougian, running for reelection in Ward 17, wants to distance himself from university newspaper article

In this Feb 2, 2005, story in The Iron Warrior, Harout Manougian, now a TDSB trustee seeking reelection, wrote that from a Christian standpoint, homosexuality is a sin.

A Toronto District School Board (TDSB) trustee who is running for reelection believes an opinion-editorial he wrote against same-sex marriage while in university was hurtful and has since tried to distance himself from it.

Harout Manougian, the trustee for Ward 17, Don Valley East, was a student at the University of Waterloo (U of W) when he contributed a piece to the Feb 2, 2005, issue of The Iron Warrior — a newspaper for U of W’s engineering society — that, as part of a larger feature, explored religious students’ views on same-sex marriage.

Representing the views of his Armenian Orthodox Christian faith, Manougian wrote that from a Christian standpoint, “homosexuality is a sin and it is wrong.” He argued that the fact that gay marriage and relationships were tolerated bothers “almost all” members of society.

“[H]omosexuals praise their sin and are driven to show it off to everyone, pretending it is okay, when in fact it is not. If they sinned quietly in some private room and then repented, in God’s eyes, there would be no difference between us. But, they do not; they have parades and constantly try to pretend that it is not wrong,” he continued.

“But if we’re going to completely uproot institutions as old as marriage to be “politically correct,” why would anyone stop at homosexual marriages? Why not polygamous legal marriages? Why not bestiality or incest? Today, there is no question that this is not publicly acceptable,” Manougian wrote. Xtra was made aware of the editorial piece via an anonymous tip at our office.

Today, Manougian tells Xtra in an emailed response that he was a teenager when he wrote the article and that since then, he has attempted several times to have the staff at The Iron Warrior remove the article. “My current opinion is that those words are hurtful and I would not want them to be spread around a second time,” he writes. According to the masthead of The Iron Warrior, Manougian also served as the editor-in-chief of the newspaper in November 2007.

Earlier this year, Manougian was involved in the debate over whether the TDSB would ask the Toronto Police Service to uphold a public nudity ban at WorldPride. He voted in favour of Trustee Sam Sotiropoulos’s motion in support of the ban, along with six other trustees, and subsequently tried to amend a motion supporting WorldPride to say that the event be celebrated in an age-appropriate manner. His amendment failed.

“There are aspects of the Pride Parade that are targeted towards a more mature demographic than the TDSB’s student population. I personally believe that the organizers have a lot to gain from restricting public nudity at the event,” Manougian writes by email.

Bullying prevention is a key part of Manougian’s reelection campaign. He affirmed to Xtra that LGBT inclusiveness is a part of that plan for him. “Every single student and staff member deserves to feel safe and supported at their local school,” he writes. “Bullying is a particular concern among LGBT youth when they cannot rely on their family or community for support.”

He adds at the end of his email that, over time, many things change.