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Toronto Catholic school board trustees vote against flying 'pro-life' flag

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Catholic public schools across Toronto will not be flying the "pro-life" flag in the month of May after school board trustees voted against it.

The motion, proposed by Trustee Michael Del Grande, sparked controversy among other trustees of the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB), who ultimately did not support it during Tuesday's board meeting.

It proposed that the International Pro-Life Flag be flown throughout May and asked the board to accommodate all staff and students who wanted to participate in next month's National March for Life, which is organized by an anti-abortion group.

"We are a pro-life board and expect you will vote in favour of my motion," Del Grande said ahead of the vote.

"We have an opportunity to showcase ourselves as defenders of human rights and the greatest social justice battle of our day. I trust you will do the right thing this evening for the children, for our Catholic faith and for God."

Some members who opposed the motion noted the expectations that parents who send their children to Catholic schools have, such as a well-rounded education with gospel learning that students will succeed in all realms.

"The TCDSB has Catholic graduate expectations, and this motion, if passed, would destroy the meaning behind these expectations and render them meaningless," Angela Kennedy said during the meeting.

"What we're seeing today is the latest example of a series of moments in our history [with] political stress and unrest, where the school board has become a kind of locus of controversy," another member, Maria Rizzo, said.

This isn't the first time the TCDSB has considered a motion to have certain flags flown outside its schools. In 2021, the board voted in favour of all of its schools in Toronto raising the Pride flag to mark Pride Month in June.

"The difference between this motion, and for example, the Pride flag motion, is that the Pride flag motion celebrated Pride [and was] student-driven," Rizzo said during the meeting. "Not once have I even heard the word, or in the motion deal with students and what students are all about."

After the motion failed, several members of the public who were watching the meeting were heard saying "shame" a number of times, prompting the chair to ask security to escort them out.

Correction

An earlier version of this story stated that the TCDSB previously voted in favour of flying the Pride flag outside some Toronto schools during the month of June. The board, in fact, voted to fly the Pride flag outside all of its schools and the board office during the month of June.

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