Police were called to a York Catholic School Board (YCDSB) meeting on Tuesday evening after they received a call about a “disturbance” at the board’s Aurora headquarters. The “disturbance” involved an ongoing dispute over raising the Pride flag at schools during Pride Month, which takes place in June.
It didn’t take long for tempers to begin to fray; after the first speaker, security guards were seen removing angry parents. According to witnesses, the conflict spilled out into the hallway and parents were heard shouting, “Shame!’
In a video posted to Twitter, parent Paolo De Buono, who is also a Catholic teacher in Toronto, is seen being swarmed by an angry crowd outside the meeting.
I was surrounded in the lobby by York Catholic parents against flying the Pride flag, & I told them:
“I am not afraid.”
(And then a York Region superintendent escorted me back into the board room.) pic.twitter.com/XAguY5UkMd
— Paolo De Buono, 🌈 #BLM, MSc, JD, OCT (@misterdebuono) April 26, 2023
In an interview with CityNews, De Buono, who is an advocate for equal rights for LGBTQ students, said he was going to speak in favour of raising the flag, but said he received an email from the YCDSB canceling his delegation.
“It’s so important for students to see themselves reflected in their school board,” he said in the interview. ‘It’s for their safety, it’s for their learning.”
De Buono said he asked why he wasn’t allowed to speak and was told by YCDSB spokesperson, Mark Brosens, “we thought that it did not fit with the Catholic values of the school system.”
He told CityNews that his speech was not problematic.
“They are not offensive, they are right on point. I was specific in saying for example that while this is a good idea, flying the Pride flag, I’m not naïve that this is going to solve all their problems in terms of systemic homophobia and transphobia,” he said.
The school board meeting commenced a short time later. Board trustees did not vote on raising the flag,