Reason to love Toronto: because the TDSB isn’t afraid to let its rainbow flag fly
Gays and lesbians have been able to marry legally in Ontario since 2003, which makes our province an international leader in the most important civil rights movement of our time. The fact that progressive Americans see Ontario as a bastion of equality is a source of, well, pride. Which is why we have been so unsettled by the actions of Rob Ford, who snubbed the Pride parade, and so disappointed by the Catholic schools that banned student-run clubs designed to provide support for LGBT kids. Their actions go against our contemporary vision of equality, which is now, happily, enshrined in law. It’s also why we’re so charmed by the Toronto District School Board, which has decided to blow a big fat raspberry in the Catholic boards’ direction. We’re referring, specifically, to a recent spate of initiatives that celebrate diversity and acceptance. There’s TDSB director Chris Spence’s Positive Space program, announced last fall, which dictates that, by June of 2012, each of the board’s 600 schools must have an LGBT-safe room and a counsellor trained to discuss issues of sexual health and identity. In April, the board’s trustees voted to designate themselves a gay-straight alliance. And in June, they launched the Director’s Gay-Straight Alliance Awards, which recognize achievements in anti-homophobia activism. High school may still suck, but by becoming an advocate for tolerance, the TDSB is reclaiming it from the bullies and the bigots and helping to banish homophobia to the history books.