Dear HWCDSB Trustees
Cc: Director of Education
The decision to not raise Pride Flag in
The Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion is writing to you to raise serious concerns with your decision not to raise the Pride Flag in June. As a centre concerned about systemic racism and discrimination in Hamilton, your decision falls in both categories. The history of discrimination against the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Hamilton is ongoing, and your decision is one of the many examples. Furthermore, your decision perpetuates violent, discriminatory acts that eventually lead to hate crimes/incidents.
Pride Month is not only a celebration but a time to remember the instances where Canada and many institutions such as schools and churches have discriminated against 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. Here are some of those instances:
- May 1969 – Decriminalization of Homosexuality.
- August 1971 – First Gay Protest in Ottawa.
- April 1978 – Immigration Act no longer prohibits gay person/people from entering Canada.
- Oct 1992 – Federal Court lifts ban against Gays and Lesbians in the Military.
- March 1995 – Ontario Human Rights Commission rules that Mayor Morrow and CIty Hamilton discriminated against gay person/people by refusing to proclaim Pride Month in 1991.
Such incidents mentioned above contribute to harassment, violence, physical abuse, psychological oppression and hate propaganda targeted at the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. On October 16th, 1985, the Parliamentary Committee on Equality Rights released a report titled “Equality for All.” It recommended that the Canadian Human Rights Act be changed to make it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation.
In Hamilton, the Mapping The Void report found out that some “Two-Spirit and LGBTIQ+ individuals cannot find supportive communities in their faith of choice and often suffer spiritual loss related to their gender identity or sexual orientation.” The report continued to highlight how churches and schools are not safe for 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.
The board’s decision not to raise the flag excludes, marginalizes, and dehumanizes parents, children, and residents of Hamilton that belong to 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.
Our experience with the Hamilton Wentworth Catholic School Board (HWCDSB) has not shown a clear understanding of issues around anti-oppression and anti-racism. Anti-oppression refers to strategies, theories and actions that challenge socially and historically built inequalities and injustices ingrained in systems and institutions by policies and practices. By choosing not to raise the flag, you are continuing to exclude, stigmatize, and violate the rights of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities and making schools unsafe.
We urge HWCDSB to reconsider its decision. If the board is truly committed to anti-oppression and anti-racism, you will refrain from continuing policies known to go against the human rights code. Flying the pride flag is an act of solidarity with 2SLGBTQIA+ communities that want their rights and responsibilities upheld in your schools and in Hamilton. This is how we build an inclusive and welcoming City.
Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion