Ontario to Mandate LGBT Student Support Groups
BY Trudy Ring
July 03 2011 3:40 AM ET
The Ontario government will take steps to assure that support groups for LGBT students are available in all schools in the Canadian province, both public and Catholic, beginning this fall, reports Canadian gay newspaper Xtra!
Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty announced the initiative at the Pride Toronto international marshals’ reception Friday, Glen Murray (pictured), a gay member of the provincial parliament who attended, told Xtra!
“This is a huge step forward,” Murray said, although details of the plan have yet to be announced. “Rights are never easily won. It’s always a battle. And this is a victory.”
Some Catholic schools have allowed generic “support” or “antibullying” groups, but Murray said McGuinty referred specifically to LGBT support groups. “Starting in September,” Murray said, “it will be students, not principals or school boards, that will decide whether a school has an LGBT support group.”
The news brought loud cheers at Saturday’s Toronto Dyke March, including from co–grand marshal Leanne Iskander, who is an activist for gay-straight alliances, and GSA members in the crowd.
With McGuinty’s action, the establishment of LGBT support groups could become an issue in the provincial election, scheduled for October 6, notes Xtra!
Meanwhile, more than a million people are expected to attend today’s Toronto gay pride parade, the biggest such parade in Canada, according to the Canadian Press. Notably absent, the news service reports, will be the city’s conservative mayor, Rob Ford, who is instead spending the long Canada Day weekend with his family at their country cottage. Some activists have criticized that decision. He will be the first Toronto mayor to miss the parade in 16 years.
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