Letter to Minister of Education on Pride Celebrations and Teacher Harassment

June 15, 2001

The Honourable Janet Ecker, Minister for Education
Minister’s Office, Mowat Block, 22nd floor
900 Bay Street, Toronto Ont M7A 1L2
Fax 416-325-2608

Dear Minister Ecker,

I am writing to you with regard to the lesbian, gay, and bisexual pride celebrations happening around the province. Most, as I’m sure you know, take place in June and July, though in some cities they are earlier or later.

Toronto and many other cities around the province issue municipal LGB pride declarations and support the events in a variety of ways.

But every year, after the pride celebrations are over, we hear from teachers who have been harassed at school as a result of being seen at pride celebrations.

I won’t go into case histories, but the usual story is that a photo of pride events has been published in a local paper or coverage has been seen on local TV. Someone – often another teacher – has spotted a colleague taking part. This information is then used to harass or discredit the teacher seen at the LGB event. Photos have been circulated to parents, campaigns undertaken to imply that students are now not safe, teachers have been made to feel they are not safe in their personal life. Jobs have been lost and the personal cost is high.

The effect of this on students questioning their sexuality or knowing that they are lesbian, gay, or bisexual is also damaging. They see that it is not safe to say you are gay or that you will be punished for your affections.

I have covered much of this ground in the letter on private schools also sent to you today, so I won’t repeat it here.

I am writing to ask you what you can do to obviate this human-rights abuse. A press release, statement, or public memo from your office in support of pride would be an obvious help, preferably containing some explicit pronouncement to the effect that pride should not be used against teachers, staff, or students.

I look forward to your early response.

Yours sincerely,

Christine Donald
CLGRO spokesperson

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